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July 23, 2010

Russia's Putin Meets Ukraine's Yanukovych

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Vyktor Yanukovych held talks on a wide-range of issues Saturday in Ukraine.

The meeting took place at Mr. Yanukovych's vacation home in the town of Foros on Ukraine's Crimea peninsula.  Russian media reports say the talks focused on trade issues.

Prior to the meeting, Mr. Putin participated in a motorcycle rally near the port city of Sevastopol on the Black Sea coast of the Crimea peninsula.  Mr. Putin roared to the rally on a Harley Davidson mortorcyle where he addressed thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts.  

Mr. Putin's visit to the Crimea coincides with Russia's Navy Day, which is observed Sunday.  Sevastopol is home to Ukrainian naval forces and to Russia's Black Sea fleet.

Speaking on Saturday Mr. Putin said it was symbolic of the friendship between Russia and Ukraine that both Russian and Ukrainian seamen will celebrate the Russian holiday.

The Russian base at Sevastopol was a major issue of contention between Russia and Ukraine after the break up of the Soviet Union.

Ukraine's previous government wanted the Russian fleet to leave after its lease expired in 2017. However after Mr. Yanukovych came to power in February, Moscow and Kyiv signed an agreement to extend the Russian lease by another 25 years to the year 2042.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.