U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Ukraine a "strategic partner" on Wednesday and said the United States is committed to helping this reform-minded ex-Soviet republic. "We are certainly committed to Ukraine's full integration to the international economy and ultimately to Euro-Atlantic structures," Rice said at a joint news conference in Kiev with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko. Yushchenko, who came to power after last year's Orange Revolution mass protests, has adopted a pro-western course, with the aim of winning membership someday in the European Union and NATO.
"America of course values the friendship of Ukraine as a ... strategic partner and an important country within Europe," Rice said, adding that the U.S. looked forward to working further "with this team that is so committed to democracy, so committed to Ukraine's future and most especially so committed to a better and more prosperous future for Ukrainian people."
Yushchenko won U.S. support last year when Washington denounced his electoral defeat as fraudulent and joined calls for the rerun that brought him to power, reports the AP. I.L.