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President Chen Meets with Former Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk

Taipei, Feb. 9 (CNA) The Chernobyl accident, the world's worst nuclear power plant disaster that occurred in Chernobyl, Ukraine, in April 1986, should serve as a powerful reminder to Taiwan, President Chen Shui-bian said Friday.

Ukraine, a constituent republic of the former Soviet Union, is well-known for its scientific technological research and development, Chen said, adding that Ukraine and Taiwan should further bolster bilateral exchanges and cooperation in economic, sci-tech, medical and academic fields so as to prop up substantive ties between the two countries.

Chen made the remarks when he met with former Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk, who is currently on a short visit in Taiwan with a delegation of parliamentarians from Ukraine.

Chen told Kravchuk that Ukraine and Taiwan should swap liaison or representative offices, saying that establishment of such offices would accelerate cooperation between the two countries, which began to engage in bilateral exchanges in 1992.

"Under promotional efforts by Kravchuk and incumbent President Leonid Danylovich Kuchma, Ukraine's substantive relations with Taiwan are becoming increasing cordial and close," Chen said.

Citing government statistics, Chen noted that two-way trade between Taiwan and Ukraine amounted to US$367 million in 2000, an increase of US$90 million over the 1999 figure. Last year, Ukraine enjoyed a trade surplus of US$269 million with Taiwan, he added.

Chen expressed his admiration for Kravchuk, a successful statesman and economist who helped promote economic reforms in Ukraine during his tenure as president between 1991 and 1994. Kravchuk is particularly commendable for Ukraine's contribution in nuclear disarmament and the nation's quest for democracy and journalistic freedom, Chen continued.

For his part, Kravchuk, currently a Ukrainian parliamentarian, said he has long been impressed with Taiwan's achievement in economic and sci-tech development. He noted that only when a country's people enjoy full economic freedom can a creative miracle become possible.

He stressed that bilateral relations between Ukraine and Taiwan should not be undermined by pressure from Beijing, adding that the two countries instead should establish information exchange centers in each other's nations to further strengthen cooperation. 

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