U.S. Pledges to Help Ukraine Qualify to Join NATOBy Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
Following his meeting with President Viktor Yushchenko, Bush thanked Yushchenko for being an active partner in the war on terror.
Yushchenko was elected president after hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians took to the streets following a rigged election in November. The so-called Orange Revolution -- after the colors adopted by Yushchenkos party -- forced a free and fair election in December.
Bush called the Orange Revolution a powerful example of democracy for people around the world.
Yushchenko said the United States and Ukraine found mutual understanding in his conversations with Bush. I am convinced that relations between our nations are based not only by mutual sympathy, but also by the unity of interests and ideals, like the rule of law, protection of fundamental human rights and respect for people, Yushchenko said through an interpreter.
He said most Ukrainians want to see America as their strategic partner. I am pleased to see that the U.S. president shares this perception, and he has highlighted this support today, Yushchenko said.
He added that Ukrainians are looking forward to U.S. support for several issues affecting their country: Ukraines accession to the World Trade Organization, lifting trade sanctions on Ukrainian-exported goods, and Ukraines entrance into European and Euro-Atlantic security alliances.
Bush said he supports the idea of Ukraine in NATO and pledged to help Ukraine as it goes through the management action plan. It is a path, and we want to help Ukraine get on that path as quickly as possible, Bush said.
Ukraine joining NATO is not a given, he added. In other words, there are things that the Ukrainian government must do in order to satisfy the requirements to be considered for NATO. Ukraine is pulling its 1,650 troops from Iraq, but will continue to support the coalition in the effort there. Yushchenko said he was proud of the role Ukrainian soldiers played in peacekeeping and in training the new Iraqi army. The Ukrainian brigade has been part of the Multinational Division Central-South. Ukrainian troops began withdrawing from Iraq in March.
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