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Putin Makes First Visit to Ukraine Since Pro-West 'Orange Revolution'

Russian President Vladimir Putin has made his first official visit to Ukraine since last year's disputed presidential election. During his brief visit, Mr. Putin met with Ukraine's president Victor Yushchenko, who took office in January.

Vladimir Putin flew into Kiev from Paris where he held talks with the leaders of France, Germany and Spain and promised the EU leaders not to interfere in Ukrainian politics.

Mr. Putin's visit to Kiev lasted for less than a day. During the visit, the Russian leader met with the country's President Victor Yushchenko, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and parliament speaker Volodymyr Latynin.

After meeting his Ukrainian counterpart, the Russian leader described the talks as constructive.

Mr. Putin says Russia and Ukraine were the closest strategic partners and that the political dialogue between Russia and Ukraine should continue. He said the two leaders managed to discuss the full range of issues of mutual cooperation.

Mr. Yushchenko, who spoke Russian, said that the meeting made it clear that there were no questions between the two leaders that could not be answered.

The Ukrainian leader said that the two presidents have taken a very important step towards making Ukrainian-Russian relations maximally constructive and that the results of their mutual work will help to develop the economies of both countries and the well-being of their citizens.

This was Mr. Putin's first official visit to Ukraine since Victor Yushchenko won the fiercely contested presidential election in December, defeating his rival former Prime Minister Victor Yanukovich, who was openly backed by Moscow.