Putin visits new Ukraine leader

Russian President Vladimir Putin has held talks with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko for the first time since last year's disputed vote there.
Relations between the two neighbours were strained by Mr Putin's endorsement of the defeated candidate.

But the pro-Western Mr Yushchenko has promised a good working relationship with Moscow.

At talks with EU leaders on Friday, Mr Putin said he would not interfere in Ukrainian politics.

Mr Putin is paying his first visit to Ukraine since Mr Yushchenko won the fiercely contested presidential election in December, defeating the candidate backed openly by Moscow.

The BBC's Helen Fawkes in Kiev says that while the countries are now heading in different directions politically, they regard each other as important trading partners.

Repairing ties

The Russian president made two highly-publicised trips to Ukraine during the election campaign, to show his support for the government candidate Viktor Yanukovich.

Despite mass protests and claims of election fraud, Mr Putin congratulated Mr Yanukovich after his initial victory at the polls.

The disputed ballot led to what has become known as the "orange revolution".

Mr Yushchenko later won a re-run of the vote, pledging closer ties to Europe.

Mr Yushchenko said repairing the damage to ties between the countries was a top priority.

The day after his inauguration he flew to Moscow to meet President Putin.

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