Trump, Ukraine's Zelenskiy Outline Pending Meeting During Phone Call
By RFE/RL July 26, 2019
WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump congratulated Ukrainian counterparty Volodymyr Zelenskiy on his parliamentary victory as the leaders discussed the agenda of their first tet-a-tet.
Trump and Zelenskiy spoke by phone on July 25 to discuss "ways to strengthen the relationship between the United States and Ukraine, including energy and economic cooperation," the White House said in a statement.
No date has yet set for their first meeting, which will take place in Washington most likely before the end of the summer.
Zelenskiy will come to the White House with a strong mandate for change after his Servant of the People party swept a majority of the seats in parliament during the July 21 election, the first party in the history of independent Ukraine to control the Rada.
Trump congratulated Zelenskiy for his party's success, the White House said.
Zelenskiy's office said in a statement that Trump voiced confidence the new Ukrainian government could improve the nation's image and complete the investigation of corruption cases that have "held back U.S.-Ukrainian cooperation."
The U.S. has repeatedly called on Ukraine to tackle corruption and weaken the influence of business tycoons that control power behind the scenes.
Zelenskiy, a former comic who played a fictitious history teacher on TV who is accidentally elected president, won a landslide presidential election in April amid popular frustration over endemic corruption and low living standards.
His party repeated the feat on July 21, garnering 254 seats, more than 60 percent of those in the legislature, as citizens gave him a green light to reform the political system.
The Ukrainian president's office said that Trump expressed U.S. support for the country's large-scale reform program as well as its territorial integrity.
Zelenskiy thanked Trump for keeping and strengthening sanctions against Russia, which annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, kicking off a five-year war that has killed more than 13,000 people.
Ukraine and the United States have held high-level talks over the past few weeks in preparation for the meeting. Ivan Bakanov, first deputy chief of Ukraine's Security Service, presidential assistant Andriy Yermak, and potential prime minister Oleksandr Danylyuk have traveled to Washington for meetings.
Kurt Volker, the U.S. special peace envoy to Ukraine, traveled to Kyiv this week with U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland.
During his trip to Washington, Zelenskiy will also meet with members of Congress, where Ukraine has received greater support than it has from the White House during the Trump presidency.
The Ukrainian Congressional Caucus has asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to invite Zelenskiy to address both chambers during his visit to Washington. Pelosi has yet to answer.
Copyright (c) 2019. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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