Bush Accepts Ukraine's Iraq Withdrawal; Asks Congress for $60 Million to Help Yushchenko Fight Corruption
Byline: Bill Sammon, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
President Bush yesterday welcomed newly elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko to the White House and shrugged off Ukraine's decision to withdraw troops from Iraq.
"He campaigned on the idea of bringing some troops out," Mr. Bush said in a joint press conference with Mr. Yushchenko in the East Room. "He's fulfilling a campaign pledge - I fully understand that."
Mr. Bush has asked Congress for $60 million to help the reform-minded Mr. Yushchenko fight corruption in Ukraine.
"Our nation will stand by Ukraine as it strengthens law enforcement, as it fights corruption, as it promotes a free media and civil society organizations," Mr. Bush told his counterpart.
Mr. Yushchenko, who has begun withdrawing Ukraine's 1,600 troops in a redeployment that will be completed by fall, made no apologies but implored the United States not to cut off support to Kiev as Ukrainians battle corruption.
"It is very important, Mr. President, to feel that we have partners standing by, that we are not left in solitude in coping with these troubles," Mr. Yushchenko said. "For Ukraine, it was a very long road to the Oval Office."
It was a reference to the decades when Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union, followed by years of efforts by Russia to keep Kiev in Moscow's orbit of influence. Mr. Yushchenko came to power last year after Ukrainians protested fraud in an election won by pro-Moscow Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich.
Russian President Vladimir Putin opposed the subsequent election of Mr. Yushchenko, a pro-Western reformer who wants Ukraine to join NATO. …