Tags: Ukraine | Chief | Unwanted | Guest | NATO | Party

Ukraine Chief Unwanted Guest at NATO Party

Friday, 22 November 2002 12:00 AM

A British and U.S. team of experts is looking into the claims, which was sparked when one of Kuchma's bodyguards handed a tape of the Ukrainian chief allegedly agreeing to the $100 million sale.

Speaking after a meeting with NATO members in Prague, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Anatoliy Zlenko said: "We are really frustrated by the unreasonable conclusions of the expert team. We would like to continue cooperation in order to prove that these groundless accusations are just an assumption."

Zlenko, who refused to answer journalists questions at the end of a brief press briefing, added: "We are open to our American counterparts, except about information concerning the transfer of technology to some countries."

U.S. authorities have repeatedly accused Kiev of hampering their probe into the transfer of radar equipment and in September suspended a $54-million aid package to the country.

NATO's deputy head, Alessandro Minuto Rizzo, said foreign ministers voiced "well-known concerns" about the alleged supply of Kolchuga radar technology to Iraq and pleaded for relations between the Alliance and Ukraine to be based on "transparency and trust."

The two sides promised to step up military cooperation at the end of the Prague meet, but NATO ministers shied from offering Kiev a map toward membership of the alliance. One NATO official said: "The door is not shut on anyone, but no one is thinking about Ukrainian membership in the short-term."

The main obstacle is Kuchma, who -- along with Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko -- was not invited to the Prague summit.

"The Ukrainian president knows there's a shadow hanging over him," said NATO Secretary-General George Robertson Thursday.

Despite pleas to stay at home, the Ukrainian president turned up at a gala dinner for the meeting's host, Czech President Vaclav Havel, Thursday.

Kuchma, who sacked his Cabinet last week, also attended a meeting of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council Friday, leaving diplomats with the thorny problem of where to seat the uninvited guest.

NATO leaders are traditionally seated next to heads of state in alphabetical order, but this would have placed the Ukrainian next to U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President George W. Bush. In the end, NATO's protocol people came up with the ingenious plan of using the French alphabet to seat leaders, thereby keeping Kuchma well away from Bush or Blair.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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A British and U.S. team of experts is looking into the claims, which was sparked when one of Kuchma's bodyguards handed a tape of the Ukrainian chief allegedly agreeing to the $100 million sale. Speaking after a meeting with NATO members in Prague, Ukrainian Foreign...
Ukraine,Chief,Unwanted,Guest,NATO,Party
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2002-00-22
Friday, 22 November 2002 12:00 AM
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