Source Pravda.Ru

Leonid Kuchma Visits Sheikhs

Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma left for a six-day visit to the Persian Gulf countries on Friday. A day before, deputy chief of the foreign policy department in the Ukraine presidential administration, Anatoly Orel told journalists, Leonid Kuchma would pay official visits to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. The program of the visit includes negotiations with the presidents of the four states and meetings with business circles of the states. On the whole, main objective of the visits is to develop economic cooperation, that is why Ukrainian businessmen are also members of the delegation visiting the East.

As the presidential administration informs, it is expected that the delegation will conclude an agreement on commercial, economic, scientific, technical and investment cooperation between Ukraine and Saudi Arabia; it is believed that an agreement on assistance and mutual protection of investments will be concluded with the United Arab Emirates; agreements on avoidance of double taxation are to be signed with Emirates and Kuwait. Anatoly Orel also mentioned that the Ukrainian delegation would discuss a number of projects on two-way cooperation, particularly in the spheres of construction, transport, oil, gas, high technologies, including aircraft and ship building.

Several Ukrainian media say that the delegation will also touch upon the arms problem, regardless of the recent scandals in the sphere. We would like to mention that the scandalous information on the records of Major Melnichenko saying that Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma sanctioned sale of the Kolchuga radar system to Iraq entailed a serious crisis in the relations between Kiev and Washington. A so-called Kolchuga scandal has already resulted in blocking of America’s aid to the Ukraine government (the USA still renders assistance to public organizations of Ukraine). A new scandal has recently broke out: information leaked from the US Department of State saying that the USA discovered new facts proving military cooperation between Ukraine and Iraq; it is also reported that America considers it as “possible violation of the UN sanctions.” This time the matter concerns supplies of pontoon bridges and other kinds of combat-engineering and rear equipment. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry denies these charges. Iraqi Ambassador to Ukraine Muzher Al-Duri also told journalists that there were neither Ukrainian pontoon bridges, nor Kolchuga radar systems in Iraq. However, he supposed that Americans may now easily find them in Iraq in order to justify their aggression.

Against this heated background, Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma is going to discuss the problem of peaceful settlement of the Iraqi crisis during his visit to the East. However, the outlining “eastern sector” of the Ukrainian foreign policy is treated ironically in the homeland. Ukraine’s Internet edition FroUm wrote: “Another foreign visit of Leonid Kuchma has acquired “an eastern accent” in accordance with the already formed tradition: this time he is leaving for the Persian Gulf countries where a war may break out any day. The whole variety of Kuchma’s recent visits is determined with the dilemma “Russia or even further to the East”, with only one exception (Prague, where he wasn’t welcomed and Italy).

Nevertheless, any efforts made for peaceful settlement of the Iraqi problem cannot be considered needless. Analysts say, Ukrainian interests in the Persian Gulf region may be seriously damaged if a war between Iraq and America breaks out there.

Andrey Lubensky PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Maria Gousseva

Read the original in Russian: http://world.pravda.ru/world/2003/5/73/207/5708_Kuchma.html

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