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U.S. Department of State
96/10/21 Remarks with Ukrainian ForMin Udovenko
Office of the Spokesman

                     U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                     Office of the Spokesman

For Immediate Release                             October 21, 1996

                          REMARKS BY
                    PRIOR TO THEIR MEETING

                    Department of State
                     Washington, D.C.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Good morning.  I'm very pleased to be meeting 
today with Foreign Minister Udovenko of Ukraine.  I think it's accurate 
to say that our relationship with Ukraine is deeper than at any time 
since Ukraine won its freedom, and I'm sure our conversation today will 
make it even deeper and more meaningful.

Ukraine obviously is a critical partner in building a secure, undivided 
Europe.  Ukrainian soldiers are serving with ours in IFOR in Bosnia.  
They are also serving in the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in 
Eastern Slavonia.  They are building a strong tie with NATO in their 
activities in the Partnership for Peace, forging new ties as well with 
their neighbors.  And so, all in all, I would say in terms of security 
issues that Ukraine is taking important steps.  The United States 
welcomes them.

At the same time, Ukraine's rapid transformation to market democracy 
encouraged many of us who had been encouraging them to move in that 
direction.  I think now our relationship can focus more and more on the 
practical issues.  Last week in Kiev, our economic experts launched the 
work of the U.S.-Ukraine Bilateral Commission, which is to be chaired by 
Vice President Gore and President Kuchma.  It is one of only four such 
commissions, and so it's a distinct recognition of the importance of 
Ukraine.  The commission will be very active in promoting trade and 
investment, protecting the environment, fighting crime, as well as 
working on security issues.  All in all, Mr. Minister, we meet at a time 
when our relationships are deep and meaningful, and we have a good deal 
to talk about.  I welcome you here.

FOREIGN MINISTER UDOVENKO:  Thank you.  I am very glad to be here, on 
the invitation of the Secretary of State.  This is a regular working 
visit to continue our consultations on a number of issues; the Secretary 
of State has already outlined them.  We are satisfied with the high 
level of our political relations.  We are grateful to the United States 
for the financial assistance the United States provides to Ukraine.

We are living in a very challenging time in Ukraine.  There is a period 
of transformation of the political system from the totalitarian regime 
to a democratic society, the economic system from the centrally planned 
economy to a market-oriented economy.  There are a number of important 
issues taking place in the position of Ukraine, aimed at the 
strengthening of peace and stability in Europe.  Ukraine declared its 
strategy of integration into European and transatlantic structure.  We 
recently stated that the strategy of Ukraine is to join the European 
Union, and soon.

During this visit, we shall discuss a number of things pertaining to the 
issues of European security, of NATO enlargement.  I brought a letter of 
President Kuchma to President Clinton, in which President Kuchma 
emphasizes the importance of further development of our relations.  As 
the Secretary of State has mentioned, recently Vice President Gore and 
President Kuchma announced the establishment of the U.S.-Ukraine 
commission of cooperation, to be co-chaired by the Vice President and 
the President.  There will be a number of subcommittees to deal with 
political, security, trading, investment, humanitarian issues.  And I 
think that this visit will further contribute to development of our 
relations.  Thank you.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, if you'll pardon us for a temperature-taking 
question.  Dennis Ross apparently is coming back.  Frankly, little has 
been said now up or down.  We've heard reports in every direction for 
the last few weeks.  How does the Hebron situation stand right now, 

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  They made good progress in the talks that have 
been recommenced.  I think it's accurate to say that the talks are back 
on track, following the summit that President Clinton convened here in 
Washington.  At that time, the parties were quite estranged and were not 
talking.  The talks have been renewed.  The progress that has been made 
has not been sufficient to conclude that issue, because the issues are 
very, very difficult and require a good deal of precision.  But the 
talks will continue.  The United States role will continue through our 
Ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk, as well as through our Consul 
General in Jerusalem.  Dennis Ross will be coming back to report to me, 
to give me a detailed account of where the parties stand on Hebron and 
other issues.  The negotiations are very detailed, very difficult, and 
Dennis will be prepared to go back in a few days, a week or so, as soon 
as his presence there would once again be very useful.  So I would say 
that progress continues on those talks.  The situation is better than it 
was before; they're back on track.  But they've not resolved those 
difficult issues yet.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, we gather that there is growing concern as to 
whether municipal elections can be held in Bosnia any time soon, whether 
the date in November is still being held to.  Is that true:  are you 
concerned the elections may have to be delayed?  If so, will the IFOR 
troops delay their departure in order to provide security for that 
election when it would come next year?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I've asked Assistant Secretary Kornblum to go 
back to the area.  He is in Sarajevo this morning, meeting with Mr. 
Bildt and Mr. Frowick and others to consider precisely that and related 
questions.  Until he has those meetings, we'll not be in a position to 
make any recommendation.  Of course, the decision will be made by 
Ambassador Frowick, as the OSCE representative in that area.  It is true 
that some of the parties, particularly the Bosnian Serbs in Srpska, have 
brought forward obstacles to the going forward of the elections, but we 
have not reached a recommendation on that subject.  As I say, the 
decision ultimately would be Ambassador Frowick's.  There is expected to 
be no change in the departure of IFOR.  The President said they'd be 
departing in approximately one year.  Whether there will be an 
international presence after it, and the nature of that international 
presence, is of course something that is under study at the present 
time.  But there is nothing to be announced or stated on that subject; 
there is no change in that at the present time.  We will expect to have 
a report from Ambassador Kornblum with respect to his consultations, 
which as I say are underway this very minute in Sarajevo.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, as you noted in your remarks, Ukraine has made 
considerable moves toward what you termed "market democracy."  I would 
think this is:  press freedoms, denuclearization.  And yet in Belarus 
and Russia, Ukraine's neighbors, there are attempts to quash the press.  
Russia is hesitant to ratify the START II treaty.  How do you size up 
events in that part of the world?  Can Ukraine influence its neighbors, 
or will the neighbors adversely influence Ukraine?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Ukraine has been, I think, a positive force in 
that region.  They have, of course, their own urgent problems to deal 
with after decades of misrule.  But they are making very sound progress, 
and I would think they're going to be a positive influence.  The fact 
that they're participating both in Bosnia and in Croatia:  there is an 
indication of the role they're playing in the region.  They certainly 
have been powerfully cooperative in sending their nuclear warheads back 
to Russia, and I think that creates a kind of example that others in the 
region ought to follow.  When I was last in Ukraine, they were on the 
verge of adopting a new constitution, which I think provides a framework 
for their country to go forward in a very sound and positive way.  So 
I'm sure the Foreign Minister would say that many difficult problems 
remain, particularly of an economic character, but I look to Ukraine to 
be a positive force in the region.

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