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Ukraine's President Agrees to Honor Gas Deal With Russia

Ukraine's president Viktor Yushchenko told the European Union on Tuesday he will honor a deal with Russia after a gas dispute that left much of Europe in the cold.

During talks with European Union officials in Brussels, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said he would abide by a gas deal struck by his country's prime minister and Moscow despite saying earlier he was unhappy with it. He previously described it as a bad deal for his country.

The agreement was signed last week between Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Yulia Tymoshenko, Mr. Yushchenko's political rival.

The deal between Ukraine and Moscow followed a gas dispute between the two countries that led to a cutoff in gas supplies to Europe earlier this month. Millions of Europeans had no heat for a long period. Europe depends on Russia for the majority of its gas imports and about 80 percent of that gas flows through Ukraine.

At a joint press conference following talks with the Ukrainian president, European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso praised Mr. Yushchenko's commitment.

"I am particularly grateful to President Yushchenko for the reassurances I have just received that he fully stands by the agreement reached with RUssia on resumption of gas supplies to Europe," said Jose Manuel Barroso. "The present commitment today is an improtant step for allowing us to focus on our broader relationship."

For his part, Mr. Yushchenko told reporters he would increase efforts to join an energy alliance with the EU, aimed to create a single energy regulatory system for areas like network access, aid and environmental standards. He said the goal was for energy market reform.