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Russia and Ukraine hope to reach a gas agreement soon

February 14, 2012, 12:19 UTC+3

According to the Russian foreign minister, closer cooperation with Ukraine is a top priority area in Russia’s foreign policy

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NIZHNY NOVGOROD, February 14 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia and Ukraine hope to reach agreement on gas issues in the near future, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday.

“Over the 20 years of diplomatic relations between our countries, we have managed not only to preserve the ties, feelings, friendship and mutual respect, but also to build up contacts, which has helped us find solutions to problems rooted in the collapse of the former Soviet Union,” Lavrov said at a meeting of the international cooperation subcommittee of the Russian-Ukrainian interstate commission.

According to the Russian foreign minister, closer cooperation with Ukraine is a top priority area in Russia’s foreign policy. “The key landmark to be oriented to is the treaty on friendship, good-neighbourly relations and partnership of 1997,” Lavrov stressed.

He also noted that the relations between the two countries are predicable. “We are maintaining an active dialogue, including on international problems, which are still complicated and ambiguous,” he said. “On Monday, we discussed a range of important issues with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Konstantin Grishchenko, with the ambassadors and deputies. I hope, and it the view was shared by all, that an agreement on gas issues will soon be reached on mutually acceptable terms.”

Apart from that, Lavrov noted a record-breaking volume of trade between Russia and Ukraine, which has exceeded 50 billion U.S. dollars. “We have very good perspectives in the area of space, nuclear energy, and in a number of other spheres,” he said. “We roughly discussed the situation over the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s stay in Crimea and steps to reach delimitation agreements in the Black and Azov Seas, and in the Kerch Strait.”

Visible progress, according to Lavrov, has been reached in easing border-crossing formalities for citizens of both states. “There are ideas how to make this process still easier,” he noted.

Commenting on today’s opening of a Ukrainian consulate general in Nizhny Novgorod, he said Russia hoped to open its consulate in Donetsk as well soon. “I am sure mutual expansion of consular presence will promote closer humanitarian ties,” Lavrov added.

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