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Ukraine Hosts Talks by 4 Ex-Soviet Republics

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko is hosting a two-day meeting of officials from three other former Soviet republics aimed at building democracy in the region.

Representatives of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova join their Ukrainian colleagues in Kiev Monday ahead of a meeting of the four countries' presidents on Tuesday. Talks are expected to focus on energy issues as well as cooperation by the four nations, known under the acronym GUAM, in international organizations.

Ukrainian officials say the meeting will consider expanding the activities of the group and changing its name to the Organization for Democracy and Development.

The group was founded in 1997 with the aim of expending cooperation of the four members of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Uzbekistan joined in 1999, but announced its withdrawal three years later, complaining that the group had deviated from its goal of economic cooperation to a focus on political issues.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.