00:02 GMT02 April 2020
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    Ukraine, U.S. sign trade, investment cooperation agreement

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    Ukraine and the U.S. signed on Monday an agreement on cooperation in trade and investment paving the way for Tuesday talks between the two countries' leaders, a Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

    KIEV, March 31 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine and the U.S. signed on Monday an agreement on cooperation in trade and investment paving the way for Tuesday talks between the two countries' leaders, a Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

    George W. Bush will arrive in Kiev on Monday evening for talks with President Viktor Yushchenko expected to focus on Ukraine's plans to join the Western military alliance, before leaving for Bucharest on Tuesday afternoon for a NATO summit.

    "The agreement is aimed at expanding and enhancing economic relations between Ukraine and U.S. in the light of Ukraine's accession to the World Trade Organization [WTO]," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

    In early February, Yushchenko signed an agreement with the global trade body clearing the way for Kiev's WTO membership after 14 years of negotiations.

    Under the agreement signed by U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab and Ukraine's Economics Minister Bohdan Danylyshyn, a bilateral council on trade and investment will be established.

    In addition, Yuriy Alekseyev, director of Ukraine's National Space Agency, and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor were also expected to sign an agreement later on Monday on cooperation in space research.

    Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States, Oleh Shamshur, said earlier in the day, "The two presidents will sign a 'roadmap' on priorities for bilateral cooperation for the mid-term. This will include a number of practical aspects, from [Ukraine's] integration into NATO to AIDS-related issues."

    The ex-Soviet republic requested to join the Membership Action Plan, a precursor to full membership in the Western military alliance, in January.

    During an upcoming NATO summit on April 2-4, NATO members will consider whether to admit Croatia, Albania and Macedonia into the alliance. Bush has made clear his support for Ukraine's membership plans, and is likely to raise the issue at the summit, which will be his last as U.S. leader.

    Thousands of people gathered on Kiev's main square earlier on Monday to protest against the U.S. president's visit, and the Ukrainian leadership's drive for NATO membership, which has triggered domestic parliamentary opposition protests amid widespread antipathy toward the alliance.

    A survey published earlier this month said only 11% of Ukrainians supported the idea of NATO membership, while almost 36% were strongly opposed.

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