WASHINGTON,21 MAY-2014(PTI): President Barack Obama will meet Ukrainian President-elect Petro Poroshenko in Poland next week during his European trip, a top US official has said.
“This is an important time for President Obama to affirm directly to President-elect Poroshenko our commitment to the people of Ukraine,” Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told reporters during a conference call yesterday. Obama, who will begin his four-day trip with a celebration in Warsaw to mark the 25th anniversary of Poland’s first elections after communist rule, will meet Poroshenko on Wednesday.
“We have a broad agenda to work with them; to stabilize the economy; to provide significant assistance as they seek to reestablish stability and growth within Ukraine; and also, of course, to support their efforts to reduce tensions to pursue dialogue and unity within Ukraine; and also to work with the European allies, with Russia, and above all with the government of Ukraine to facilitate dialogue to reduce the tensions within Ukraine,” Rhodes said. The US has very much admired that the people of Ukraine have turned out in huge numbers to elect Poroshenko, he said.
“We’ve admired his commitment to pursue dialogue and to aim to reduce tensions and put Ukraine on a positive path. In these days before his inauguration, this will be an important time for the President to check in directly and review his agenda,” he said.
“We’ve always said that any questions about the legitimacy of the Ukrainian government should be settled by the will of the Ukrainian people,” Rhodes said. “We now have a clear mandate for President-elect Poroshenko. And this should be taken as an opportunity for all sides, both within Ukraine and in the surrounding neighborhoods, to work together to reduce tension,” he added.
Russia, he said, has an opportunity here to reduce the tensions that have caused such destabilization and human suffering inside of Ukraine.
“However, we have not yet seen Russia take the steps that are necessary to reduce those tensions,” he said, adding that separatists in the east and the south enjoy Russia’s support. “We believe Russia needs to use its influence on those separatists to calm tensions, to put an end to this violence, and to engage in a dialogue with the newly elected government of Ukraine,” Rhodes said.
The US and Europe have consistently said they are ready to facilitate and participate in such a dialogue provided that the elected government of the Ukrainian people is at the table, he said, adding that this is the opportunity that is available to Russia.
“Should they not take it, they will continue to face the isolation that they’ve been confronted with, the sanctions that have imposed a great cost already on their economy. So that’s the choice that continues to be before the Russians,” he added.