Ukraine's prime minister planned to head to the United States late Monday for talks on his country's bid to join the World Trade Organization. Yuriy Yekhanurov was expected to hold talks with top U.S. officials including Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Ukraine's WTO membership is seen as an important short-term goal for this ex-Soviet republic as it seeks to boost its sluggish economy. Yekhanurov was hoping to win U.S. support for Ukraine's WTO aspirations and earn Washington's acknowledgment of Ukraine as a market economy.
Earlier this year, lawmakers approved eight bills key to membership in the Geneva-based trade organization, but failed to pass the entire 14-bill package, the AP reports.
President Viktor Yushchenko said this month that Ukraine remained on track to win membership before the year's end. He met with parliamentary faction leaders on Monday to discuss the country's efforts.
During his visit, Yekhanurov is also expected to take part in the U.S.-Ukraine Energy Dialogue Conference on Wednesday in Washington and meet with Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman. A.M.