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Top officials to discuss Bush-Putin visit

PRESIDENT Ivan Gašparovič, PM Mikuláš Dzurinda and Parliamentary Speaker Pavol Hrušovský are scheduled to meet this week to discuss arrangements for the visit of the US and Russian presidents to Bratislava on February 24, the TASR news agency wrote January 3.

Observers expect US President George Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the recent presidential election in Ukraine, in which Washington supported liberal opposition candidate Viktor Jushchenko while Moscow backed incumbent Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.

The meeting of Bush and Putin with Slovak leaders is the first such summit in Bratislava. The Slovak Organisational Committee will be responsible for the logistics. Committee members include representatives from all the institutions involved in the visit.

Gašparovič's spokesman, Marek Trubač, did not rule out the possibility that Gašparovič and Hrušovský might use the meeting with the Slovak Organisational Committee to also discuss an appropriate date for Gašparovic to present an annual state-of-the-nation speech in parliament.

The Slovak Constitution grants the president the opportunity to address parliament, but so far Gašparovič has not yet used the privilege.

"The President wants to wait for the right moment to give a speech in parliament," said Trubač.

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