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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin to Forge Trade Ties in Central Europe

President Boris Yeltsin arrived in Warsaw on Tuesday at the start of a two-day visit to Central Europe, where he is due to sign both "the contract of the century" with Poland to build a $10 billion gas pipeline, as well as a friendship treaty with the new Slovakian state.

In a 39-hour series of lightning visits to Warsaw, Prague and Bratislava, Yeltsin is expected to complete agreements setting trade and political relations between Russia and these former Soviet satellites on a new - post-communist - basis.

Yeltsin flew first to Warsaw, arriving late Tuesday at Okecie airport, and headed straight for talks with Poland's Lech Walesa, according to Reuters. He is due to sign what Polish newspapers have been describing as "the contract of the century", according to Itar-Tass.

The agreement would clear the way for construction of the Polish leg of a new gas pipeline that would carry 67 million cubic meters of natural gas a year from Arctic Russia to Europe, via Belarus.

The pipeline is projected to cost around $10 billion to build and would run from the Yamal Peninsula in Northern Russia to the Polish-German border. It would not be completed until the year 2010.

Poland's section would remain Russian property and would cost between $3 billion and $4 billion to construct, according to news reports. Poland would be paid partly in gas supplies, slated at around 14 million cubic meters a year.

One attraction of the new pipeline for Russia is that it would bypass Ukraine, through which the current gas line passes. Ukraine has at least once closed the tap that controls Russia's lucrative gas exports to the West to gain leverage in negotiations with its larger neighbor.

Yeltsin is also due to sign a new treaty on trade and economic cooperation with the Polish president, Lech Walesa. This would help to replace the previous agreements that collapsed with the fall of communism in 1989.

On Wednesday morning Yeltsin will leave Warsaw for the Czech capital of Prague, where he will meet President Vaclav Havel for talks in a brief five-hour stop. He will also lay flowers on the grave of a young Czech woman who was shot dead by Soviet troops on Aug. 26, 1968, during the invasion of former Czechoslovakia, Reuters reported.

In the afternoon, the president win fly to the Slovak capital of Bratislava, where he is to sign the first treaty of friendship and cooperation between Russia and the newly created state.