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Ukrainian FM: Relations With US are Extraordinarily Positive


Ukraine's foreign minister is calling recent developments in U.S. - Ukrainian relations "extraordinarily positive."

In an interview with VOA Thursday, Borys Tarasyuk noted how the United Stases provided political support for the transformation to democracy in Ukraine.

He also said Washington supported Ukraine in January's natural gas price dispute with Russia.

Tarasyuk was in Washington Thursday for meetings with Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

State Department officials say the talks focused on closer Ukrainian ties with Europe and last month's U.S. decision to recognize Ukraine as a market economy.

Secretary Rice stressed the importance of guaranteeing that this month's parliamentary and local elections in Ukraine meet international standards.

Wednesday the U.S. House of Representatives approved a measure calling for the lifting of trade restrictions on Ukraine and the establishment of permanent, normal trade relations between the two countries.

The restrictions imposed in 1974 under the so-called Jackson-Vanik amendment linked trade relations with the former Soviet Union to that country's easing of restrictions on human rights, especially those involving emigration. The legislation remained in effect for the Soviet successor states.

The house bill must now be reconciled with the measure adopted by the Senate and then signed by President Bush before it becomes law.