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Ukraine wants to help with Mideast peace, Peres suggests it helps with money

As Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko expressed his willingness to play role in establishing peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Israeli President Shimon Peres suggested that Kiev help with money.

Speaking during a joint news conference at Peres' official residence, Yuschenko said he held the relationship between Israel and Ukraine in high regard and suggested the two countries have a shared future, despite a difficult history.

"In the state of Israel we see a loyal partner and the best friend in all areas relating both to regional and global issues," Yunschenko said. "Ukraine wishes to play a role in the peace process."

Ukraine's powerful neighbor, Russia, is a member of the so-called "quartet" of international peacemakers, with the United States, United Nations and the European Union, and Peres said he told his guest that helping bankroll peace projects would be more welcome than additional political engagement.

"Parallel to the political process there is now also an economic process and I suggest that Ukraine take part in building the economic peace," Peres said. "I think the president liked this idea."

In World War II, some 1.4 million of Ukraine's 2.4 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust, most famously in the Babi Yar massacre where more than 33,000 Jews were executed at the edge of a ravine in Kiev between Sept. 29-30 1941. Nazis rounded up the Jews and shot them on a platform built over the ravine, burying some alive and beating other survivors with shovels.

In total, six million Jews were killed by the Nazis during World War II, including 1.5 million children.

"We don't need to erase the past nor should we neglect the future," said Peres. "There have been some very difficult chapters in our history."