Leonid Kuchma to celebrate his birthday in Zavidovo outside Moscow

Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma will be celebrating his sixty-fourth birthday on Friday in Zavidovo outside Moscow. As the Russian President's press secretary Alexei Gromov reported, on Thursday evening, after the completion of their negotiations in the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin and Leonid Kuchma went to Zavidovo where they continued their meeting in an unofficial atmosphere and "with a minimum number of aides." According to the press secretary of the Russian President, on Friday Vladimir Putin will congratulate Leonid Kuchma on his birthday. Later today the two Presidents will return to Moscow. In the afternoon Leonid Kuchma will leave the Russian capital.

The Kremlin highly praised Leonid Kuchma's decision to time his trip to Moscow for his birthday. Moscow regards this as "a positive gesture" of the Ukrainian leader with regard to Russia and Vladimir Putin.

Talking with reporters, Leonid Kuchma remarked with a smile that he "followed the example of the President of the Russian Federation" who, being the Chairman of the Council of the CIS Heads of State scheduled the next summit of the Commonwealth in Chisinau for October 7th, his birthday.

Apart from that, the Ukrainian leader called a birthday "a very difficult undertaking." He believes that "getting away from it would always be a good thing." According to RIA Novosti, in Zavidovo the Russian and Ukrainian Presidents will sum up Thursday's negotiations on trade and economic issues which, experts say, proved to be "very efficient," and will also map out the ways of developing cooperation in this and other spheres.

On Thursday, Vladimir Putin and Leonid Kuchma agreed to annul mutual limitations on trade in some goods "as soon as possible." As Vladimir Putin said, "the annulment of limitations concerns the delivery to the Russian market of Ukrainian pipes" and "a whole group" of Russian goods delivered to Ukraine.

Later Russian Vice-Premier Viktor Khristenko specified that the list included "nineteen items." At the same tine, the problem of the 31.7 percent customs on the import of Russian cars, introduced by Ukraine since July 30th, has remained unsolved.

As Viktor Khristenko said, "the work will continue" on this problem, because there are "differences in the customs statistics." The Russian and Ukrainian figures much differ. According to the Russian Vice-Premier, "the verification of the statistics base will be a key to solving the problem." At his meeting with Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin, President Leonid Kuchma expressed concern about the mass media reports about "a trade war" between Russia and Ukraine. "Better a lean peace than any war," said Leonid Kuchma and added: "When a fire is only smouldering it should be put out."