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Zelenskyy invited to White House amid aid freeze

Update : 11 Dec 2023, 08:32

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is due in the White House on Tuesday, where President Joe Biden invited him to discuss "Ukraine's urgent needs" in its war against Russia.

Zelenskyy was in Latin America on Sunday. He attended the inauguration of the newly-elected libertarian economist Javier Milei as president.

He is expected in Washington on Monday. The Ukrainian president has also been invited to address US senators on Tuesday, the Reuters news agency cited a Senate leadership aide as saying.

What do we know about Zelenskyy's visit to the US?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a Sunday statement that Zelenskyy and Biden would discuss "the vital importance of the United States' continued support at this critical moment."

The Ukrainian presidency meanwhile said the visit would focus on "the continuation of defense cooperation between Ukraine and the United States, particularly specific joint projects on the production of weapons and air defense systems, as well as coordination of efforts between our countries in the coming year."

The visit comes a week after Republican senators blocked $106 billion (approximately €98 billion) in emergency aid primarily for Ukraine and Israel. They are trying to tie a package of immigration reforms to the assistance. 

Biden had urged lawmakers to approve the funds. His administration has warned that it will run out of money for Ukrainian aid in weeks otherwise.

Zelenskyy meets Orban in Argentina

The Ukrainian president also met on Sunday Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and the pair spoke briefly during Milei's inauguration.

The meeting was confirmed to Reuters by Orban's press chief Bertalan Havasi, who stopped short of addressing whether the Hungarian leader would continue to oppose Ukraine's entry to the European Union.

"With regards to Ukraine's EU accession, Viktor Orban signalled that the member states of the European Union were continuously discussing the issue," Havasi told Reuters in an email.

Any decision to proceed with starting Ukraine on the road to membership requires unanimity among the bloc's members. Orban has repeatedly expressed opposition to starting talks now. EU leaders meet for their last summit of 2023 this coming week.

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