Media availability with President Leonid Kuchma of Crimea, Ukraine
Q: What can you tell us about what are the issues in American and Ukrainian relations, and the military reforms and Ukrainian participation in KFOR?
Kuchma: You know that the Ukrainian armies are in the process of reforming, so any support, especially support from American armies, American Minister of Defense is very important.
Cohen: If I could add to that: In addition to discussing ways in which the United States can be helpful with Ukraine reforming its military and modernizing it, we also discussed the extension of the Cooperative Threat Reduction program that we have that was due to expire in the year 2000, and we have agreed that that will be extended another six years-once again, demonstrating the strength of our cooperation with Ukraine.
And I also wanted to take this opportunity to express our gratitude and admiration for President Kuchma's effort to help bring about a peace in Kosovo prior to the conflict ending, and then of course, once the conflict did end, the dedication of the President to contribute peacekeeping forces to make sure that peace does, in fact, prevail in Kosovo. That demonstrates his commitment to promoting peace and stability throughout Kosovo and certainly, throughout the region.
Cohen: If I could respond to that question. That is something that is now in the process of being worked out-both the size, the shape and the mission-and hope that can be provided to Ukraine to carry that out. We are very encouraged by President Kuchma's commitment to the peacekeeping mission, and we hope to see that peacekeeping force resolved fairly quickly in the very near future.