Ukraine 'strategic partner,' WH says

April 1, 2005 at 10:50 PM

WASHINGTON, April 1 (UPI) -- Counter-proliferation efforts and Ukraine WTO membership will feature in talks between Presidents Bush and Viktor Yuschenko, the White House said Friday.

"Ukraine is a strategic partner of the United States, in our view. And I suspect that they'll talk about the importance of supporting the advance of freedom and democracy in Eastern Europe and the broader Middle East region," spokesman Scott McClellan added.

Yuschenko, supported by Washington in a successful bid to overturn fraudulent elections, meets with Bush Monday at the start of a four-day visit to Washington that will feature an address to Congress.

His taking of office in January, following massive street demonstrations that helped overturn machinations by his pro-Russian rival, has been heralded by the Bush administration as a symbol of spreading democracy.

Yuschenko is seeking his country's membership in the World Trade Organization as part of his bid for closer economic ties to the West.

Ukraine is a former Soviet state and has contributed troops to U.S.-led stabilization efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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