Kuchma insists he will attend NATO summit

  • 2002-11-07

Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said last week he plans to attend the NATO summit in Prague later this month, despite the military alliance's decision to exclude him from a key meeting.

"I will go to Prague," Kuchma told a press conference in the southern city of Simferopol. "If we are partners, let's discuss things directly."

NATO spokesman Yves Brodeur announced Oct. 30 that the NATO-Ukraine committee meeting at the Nov. 21-22 summit would be a ministerial-level session, instead of a gathering of heads of state.

The announcement came after the United States accused Kuchma of approving the sale of an early-warning radar system to Iraq in breach of U.N. sanctions.

Kuchma acknowledged that relations with NATO "have deteriorated following the accusations against Ukraine about selling radar to Iraq."

But he criticized the decision to exclude him from the NATO-Ukraine committee, saying, "We should be discussing the cooperation program at the highest level."

Ukraine has "partner" status with NATO and said in May it was seeking to become a full member.