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    AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE SPEAKS ABOUT DIFFICULTIES IN BILATERAL RELATIONS

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    MOSCOW, March 9 (RIA Novosti) - The relations between Russia and Ukraine are the basis for the successful development of the two countries, Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Viktor Chernomyrdin said on Tuesday at the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

    "We have no problems either in the political or interstate spheres," he said.

    "But this does not mean that everything is all right," he continued. "For centuries we were one state, while today there are two states with their own laws."

    According to him, certain difficulties exist in trade and economic relations. In 1996, trade between the two countries amounted to $18 billion, but by 1999, it had dropped to $8 billion. Mr. Chernomyrdin said that this negative tendency was overcome in 2000 when bilateral trade reached more than $1 billion a month. In 2003, bilateral trade was $15.5 billion per year.

    Mr. Chernomyrdin said that at its height, the trade between the two countries reached $70 billion.

    The ambassador characterized Russia's investment policy in Ukraine as unsatisfactory. "Russia has invested $350 million in the Ukrainian economy and is only the seventh largest investor in it," the ambassador said.

    Russia has the possibility of becoming more actively involved in the Ukrainian economy, the diplomat said.

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