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President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma met businessmen from both countries

December 22, 2000, Moscow

Addressing the meeting, the Russian President expressed hope that the Russian-Ukrainian intergovernmental gas agreement would be signed in the near future. Mr Putin stressed that the Minsk gas agreements had drastically changed the nature of Russian-Ukrainian relations, making them more civilised and candid.

President Putin confirmed Russia’s intention to build new gas pipelines but said this did not mean that the Ukrainian pipeline network would not be used. He said talks involving top Gazprom managers would discuss the use of the Ukrainian gas-transport network, ways of expanding its potential and joint operations on foreign markets.

Mr Putin stressed at the meeting that Ukraine was Russia’s main economic partner, accounting for 40% of its trade turnover.

The President said that Russian and Ukrainian legislation, primarily economic legislation, should be harmonised.

Earlier in the day, Mr Putin and Mr Kuchma attended an official function marking the 80th anniversary of the adoption of the GOELRO electrification plan.

December 22, 2000, Moscow