VILNIUS - President Valdas Adamkus left for Kiev on Friday afternoon to join a number of top European officials who will attempt to mediate a solution in the escalating political crisis in Ukraine.
The Lithuanian president was accompanied by Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Albinas Januska and foreign policy adviser Edminas Bagdonas.
Sources said Adamkus was set go directly to the Ukrainian presidential palace upon arrival in Kiev.
On Thursday the president's press office had reported that outgoing Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma had called Adamkus and Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and asked for the help in resolving the bitter conflict that has split Ukrainian society in two.
Adamkus asked Kuchma, who visited Lithuania at the end of 2002, how Lithuania could help mediate. Kuchma stressed that the good name and experience of Lithuania in the cooperation with Ukraine and trust from the European Union are key factors in the search for a way out of the current situation in Ukraine, the Baltic News Service reported.
However, the Russian news agency Interfax, citing a press release of the Ukrainian president's press service, that Adamkus had proposed Kuchma to mediate the tense situation in Ukraine and Kuchma accepted the proposal.
Afterward, Adamkus had a phone conversation with Kwasniewski, the president's press office said. According to a press release issued Thursday, the Lithuanian and Polish leaders agreed to maintain constant contact and seek ways to bring the opposing sides to the negotiating table and settle the escalating confrontation peacefully.
The trip to Kiev forced Vilnius to revise his meeting with presidents Vaira Vike-Freiberga and Arnold Ruutel that was scheduled for Friday. It was reported that Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas will participate in the event instead of him.
Curiously, Algirdas Brazauskas, told Parliament on Thursday that there was no need for Lithuania "to interfere" in the conflict. "How easy we attempt to interfere with matters of other states - thinking it is our duty. I do not think it is," he said. In his opinion, it is enough for Lithuania to join the general European Union policy on the matter.
"We are members of the European Union and Europe shapes a policy of its own. We, as active members, will join the general policy on Ukraine," said the prime minister.