U.S. Secretary Of State Declares Support For Ukraine's European Integration Progress

WASHINGTON, DC -- United States Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Ukrainian counterpart he supports the efforts Ukraine is making in areas such as nuclear non-proliferation, energy security, and peacekeeping activities including Ukraine's participation in the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

John Kerry

"We're very grateful to the Ukrainian leadership for their cooperation on that," Kerry told Ukrainian Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara in Washington.

Addressing Ukraine's drive towards European integration, Kerry added, "and we are particularly committed to helping Ukraine work to become a prosperous European democracy, and we appreciate their commitment to that."

Kerry said he hopes Ukraine will be able to sign the Association Agreement with the EU "soon", which is widely expected to take place at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius in November of this year.

Ukraine has been striving to complete a raft of legislative reforms in order to conform to European norms and practices.

In recent months the Government of Ukraine has worked effectively to introduce several reforms needed to modernize the country, ranging from the criminal procedure code, which is now in line with Western standards, to improvements to the electoral law and visa liberalization.

Kozhara informed Kerry about the implementation of these reforms, aimed at introducing European standards in all aspects of life, and stressed the strategic importance of the Association Agreement.

Separately, Kozhara said his nation stands ready to further invest in a comprehensive strategic partnership with the United States that will focus on economic cooperation with an emphasis on energy and agriculture.

Both Kerry and Kozhara are new in their jobs and observers noted the open approach of both men as they discussed bi-lateral relations in the political, security, economic, and humanitarian fields.

Kerry noted that "all in all, we have a very strong and growing relationship, and we appreciate the leadership of the Ukraine as the current chair of the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe)."

Foreign Minister Kozhara replied that he too was looking forward to working with Kerry on issues including non-proliferation and frozen conflicts, which Ukraine is making a special priority during its chair of the OSCE.

Kozhara invited Kerry to see these efforts first hand at the annual OSCE meeting in Kiev in July, something the Secretary of State said he will consider.

Source: The Sacramento Bee