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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kiev Agrees To NATO Partnership

KIEV -- The Ukrainian government said Monday that it will join the U.S. Partnership for Peace initiative to establish ties with NATO countries.

The step is part of a warming in relations between Kiev and the Western alliance following President Leonid Kravchuk's renewed commitment to eliminate Ukraine's nuclear weapons.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Anatoly Zlenko will sign the Partnership for Peace accord on Tuesday in Brussels, said Anton Budeiko, Kravchuk's chief adviser on foreign policy.

"I think that Ukraine's joining Partnership for Peace will strengthen our international prestige and give us additional national security guarantees," Budeiko said.

The U.S. initiative offers immediate but limited military cooperation to former East bloc nations, while holding out the possibility that they eventually may become full NATO members.

The Clinton administration designed Partnership for Peace as a compromise between the former Soviet bloc states, which want quick NATO membership, and Russia, which objects to NATO's rapid expansion.

President Boris Yeltsin has warned that taking former Warsaw Pact nations into NATO could isolate Russia and play into the hands of his extreme nationalist opponents.

To date, only four Eastern European countries -- Poland, Romania, Estonia and Lithuania -- have signed up for the program, but U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry said Saturday that he expects a dozen more to join in the weeks ahead.

Ukraine's relations with the United States soured last year when the parliament backpedaled on agreements to get rid of its nuclear weapons -- which Ukraine finally agreed to in Moscow last month.

(AP, Washington Post)