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Ukraine President Yushchenko to Address US Congress


Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko addresses the U.S. Congress on Wednesday, to thank lawmakers and the American people for their support of democracy in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian leader has used his five-day official visit to the United States to express appreciation, and encourage a process he hopes will lead to strengthened relations with America.

In his address to a joint meeting of Congress, often used by foreign leaders to speak directly to lawmakers, he is expected to expand on these points.

Earlier this week, Mr. Yushchenko discussed a range of issues with President Bush in a meeting lasting more than an hour at the White House.

Among the issues were democracy and human rights in Ukraine as well as in neighboring Moldova and Belarus, the situation in Iraq, and continuing efforts against the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

Presidential spokesman Scott McLellan.

"The importance of Ukraine continuing on a path of democratic reform and economic reform,” said McLellan. “They talked about the importance of fighting corruption, and [about] rule of law, and the president made clear as Ukraine moves forward on a democratic and economic reforms the United States will be there to support them in those efforts."

Congress has cited the so-called Orange revolution in Ukraine as one of a number of signs that democracy continues to take root around the world.

Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey spoke in the House of Representatives earlier this year.

"While listening to President Bush's inaugural address, I couldn't help but think of the recent events in Ukraine, as a powerful example of what he [Mr. Bush] called one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretentions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of decent and tolerant people is that of the force of human freedom,” said Mr. Bush. “We have seen this happen in Ukraine, and we must stand ready to offer our help and support and assistance to President Yushchenko and the Ukrainian people as they consolidate their free democratic future."

The House and Senate approved a resolution in January congratulating Ukrainians and pledging American assistance in strengthening a fully free and open democratic system in Ukraine and a prosperous free market economy.

Although Ukraine is withdrawing its approximately 1600 troops who have been in Iraq, many lawmakers would like to see stronger long-term cooperation from Ukraine in the war on terrorism, and with issues such as Iran's nuclear development efforts.

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