Oil and gas exploration is one area of cooperation between Brunei and Ukraine, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of Ukraine, Mr. Mykola Y Azarov, told Sunday Bulletin yesterday, according to BruneiDirect.com.

Ukraine produces offshore oil and gas in the Black Sea and has the capability to produce almost all the equipment for the processes by itself.

"We can exchange our hi-tech research and develop our cooperation in this field," Mr Azarov said during his meeting with His Majesty the Sultan and Yang DiPertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday, where they discussed economic matters and cooperation between the two countries.

"I told His Majesty and His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, on the changes in the Ukranian economy during the last few years.

"We talked on the achievement of the Ukranian economy and cited potential areas of interest to Brunei. We are interested in the sharing of deals in sectors of the economy useful for Brunei. His Majesty made appointments for the Brunei ministers to study our proposals carefully and prepare analytical research on this issue," Mr Azarov said.

 "Ukraine welcomes private and government investors in the Ukrainian economy. We considered our negotiations to be quite interesting and we need to expand our negotiations."

Mr Azarov said His Majesty visited Ukraine in 2004 and the monarch recalled visiting military institutions there where His Majesty was shown equipment and had an insight on the state of the Ukranian army and quality of the military equipment.

"Our delegation is very proud and we thank the Brunei government for the warm reception. I was pleased to pass the invitation from the Ukranian President for His Majesty to make another visit to Ukraine. His Majesty is an honourable guest of our country," Mr Azarov said.

On trade relations between the two countries, Mr Azarov said it is "good" due to the bilateral interest in developing the relationship.

"I think we are just in the beginning in the development of our relationships. But we are interested in further relationships between our two countries."

Asked on developments in cooperation since the last visit by the former Ukranian president to Brunei about three years ago, he said it has not been an easy time for Ukraine in the last three years.

"The president and government of our country have changed. There are several amendments to the Ukraine`s constitution and the parliament of Ukraine appointed and formed a government of Ukraine. We now have a chance to build economic policy. I told this matter to His Majesty. We will work out our previous agreements."

On the regional and international matters discussed with HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah during the luncheon yesterday, Mr Azarov said they held a long conversation. "Both Brunei and Ukraine are quite peaceful nations. We are interested in a safe situation in Asia and I think Brunei is also interested for a peaceful and safe situation in Europe."