Ukraine's foreign minister clashed with Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych Wednesday over the premier's planned visit to the United States, and called for the trip to be postponed.
Yanukovych, who would be making his first US visit as prime minister, said in turn that Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk should be fired.
Tarasyuk said that instructions for the trip which is scheduled to start on Sunday were not approved properly or on time, and asked for the US ambassador to postpone the trip. The US Embassy had no comment on the dispute.
President Viktor Yushchenko, however, approved the instructions sent to him by the government earlier Wednesday, clearing the way for the trip to go forward.
"I understand that for these months we have failed to find possibilities to work jointly. The Foreign Ministry cannot run the government," Yanukovych said.
The Western-leaning and nationalist Tarasyuk has clashed frequently with the pro-Russian Yanukovych, as the two vie to influence foreign policy.
Tarasyuk is a strong advocate of NATO membership and of lessening Russia's influence over the ex-Soviet republic. Yanukovych pledged to improve tense relations with Russia and put Ukraine's membership in NATO on hold.
Yushchenko and Yanukovych also share power in an awkward arrangement that was initially billed as an effort to unite Ukraine. Instead, it has turned into a tug-of-war for influence, with the president largely on the losing end.
Yushchenko repeatedly defended embattled Tarasyuk, and warned that firing him could put Ukraine's pro-Western course at risk.
Yanukovych also planned to travel to Moscow Thursday to meet with his Russian counterpart, Interfax quoted Deputy Prime Minister Dmytro Tabachnik as saying.
Meanwhile, lawmakers Wednesday accepted the resignation of another Yushchenko' ally in the cabinet Youth and Sports Minister Yuriy Pavlenko.
Yushchenko's Our Ukraine party moved into the opposition recently, and party officials have demanded that its ministers resign from the cabinet. The justice and culture ministers have already resigned.
(China Daily November 30, 2006)