Conflict Erupts Among Cabinet Ministers Over Ukrainian Premier's Trip To U.S.

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's foreign minister clashed with Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych Wednesday over the premier's planned visit to the United States, and called for the trip to be postponed.


Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych (L) and Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk (R)

Yanukovych, who would be making his first U.S. visit as prime minister, said in turn that Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk should be fired.

The visit was scheduled to start on Sunday.

Tarasyuk said that instructions for the trip were not approved properly or on time, and asked for the U.S. ambassador in Ukraine to postpone the trip. The U.S. Embassy had no comment.

The government has approved the trip instructions and sent them to President Viktor Yushchenko for approval, which his Cabinet representative said he would give.

"I understand that for these months we have failed to find possibilities to work jointly. The Foreign Ministry cannot run the government," Yanukovych said.

The Western-leaning and nationalist Tarasyuk has clashed frequently with the pro-Russian Yanukovych, as the two vie to influence foreign policy.

Tarasyuk is a strong advocate of NATO membership and of lessening Russia's influence over Ukraine. Yanukovych pledged to improve tense relations with Russia and put Ukraine's membership in NATO on hold.

Yushchenko and Yanukovych also share power in an awkward arrangement that was initially billed as an effort to unite Ukraine. Instead, it has turned into a tug-of-war for influence, with the president largely on the losing end.

Yushchenko repeatedly defended embattled Tarasyuk, and warned that firing him could put Ukraine's pro-Western course at risk.

Source: AP

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