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Vilnius Conference To Discuss Ukraine Military

24 October 2005 -- U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld joins European colleagues today to examine how they can help Ukraine overhaul its oversized military -- a key condition Kyiv must fulfill if it is to join the NATO alliance.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Anatoliy Hrytsenko has been invited to join the talks in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius with his NATO counterparts.
 
On 23 October, Rumsfeld said the United States supports Ukraine's bid for closer ties with the military alliance, but added that much reform work remains to be done.
 
"The NATO-Ukraine relationship is an important one and the United States very much agrees with Lithuania and other countries of NATO in their interest in participating and assisting Ukraine in their reforms and their interest in becoming more closely affiliated with NATO," Rumsfeld said. "We are pleased to be here, to participate in this and to work with Ukraine in weeks and months ahead."
 
Joining NATO and the European Union are top priorities for Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko.
 
(AP)

Copyright (c) 2005. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org



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