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Putin in tricky trip to Ukraine

Kiev, March 19 (Reuters): Russian President Vladimir Putin today launched a tricky diplomatic foray into Ukraine, now under liberal management, after promising European powers he would support pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko.

Putin flew into Kiev from Paris and went straight into talks with the President, who took office in January after mass street protests over a rigged election that initially gave victory to his Moscow-backed rival.

Putin, who met the leaders of France, Germany and Spain yesterday, was to stay in Kiev for only a few hours.

Local media quoted Yushchenko as telling Putin at the start of the talks that the leaders would discuss the 'Common Economic Space' which Moscow promotes as a vehicle to boost economic links between former Soviet republics.

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