Russian President Vladimir Putin struck an upbeat note on Thursday over the political relations between his country and Ukraine and said he had agreed to meet his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yushchenko.
"Political relations between Russia and Ukraine have been developing quite successfully recently," Putin told visiting Ukrainian Parliament Speaker Oleksandr Moroz, the Interfax news agency reported.
"The other day I spoke to Yushchenko, and we agreed on a meeting as part of a commission that was set up a while ago but we have unfortunately been unable to launch so far," Putin said, referring to the Putin-Yushchenko commission.
Moroz, for his part, said: "Nobody has any doubt that there is a need to build up and strengthen our relations."
The political situation in Ukraine continues to stabilize, which would allow mapping out long-term plans for economic cooperation, he added.
Speaking a news conference in Moscow, Moroz also said talks with Russia on the price of gas supplies to Ukraine -- one of the sticking points in recent Russia-Ukraine relations -- have been completed but he declined to elaborate on the results of the talks.
Ukraine currently pays US$95 per 1,000 cubic meters to Russian gas giant Gazprom, which supplies Ukraine with a mix of gas from Russia and Central Asian countries under a deal reached at the beginning of this year.
That deal, which nearly doubled the price from last year for Kiev, sealed a bitter dispute during which Russia briefly cut off supplies to Ukraine.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych visited Moscow in late September for gas talks with Russian officials. The two sides agreed on the amount of gas Russia would supply to Ukraine in 2007-2009 but have yet to agree on the price.
(Xinhua News Agency October 13, 2006)