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Zelensky announces bilateral talks with US, other countries at Vilnius summit

by Martin Fornusek July 10, 2023 10:37 PM 2 min read
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (L) and President Volodymyr Zelensky speak at a news conference in Kyiv on April 20, 2023. (Photo: Andrew Kravchenko/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on July 10 bilateral talks with European countries, the U.S., Canada, and Japan during the upcoming Vilnius summit.

A one-on-one meeting between Zelensky and U.S. President Joe Biden was also reported by Politico, citing its unnamed sources.

According to the outlet, Biden will seek to convince Zelensky that simplifying the accession process and a sizeable security commitment is the most that Ukraine can get from the summit.

While Kyiv has not officially announced Zelensky's participation, the event's program said on the website that Ukraine's president will be present at a press conference with Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on July 12.

In his July 10 address, Zelensky himself hinted at his participation: "It is an honor for me to represent such people and such Ukraine."

The president named acquiring air defenses and weapons for the front line as the main Ukraine's priorities at the summit. He also added that all the Allies understand that Ukraine will be a member of NATO, despite ongoing disagreements on the exact wording of their declaration.

Kyiv applied for a fast-tracked NATO membership in September 2022. The country hopes for a strong signal on its entry into the Alliance at the Vilnius summit on July 11-12. According to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Kyiv should be able to skip the Membership Action Plan on its path to accession.

However, even this procedure would still oblige Ukraine to carry out reforms and would not set any time frame for Ukraine's accession. The U.S. and Germany are expected to oppose a decisive invitation for Kyiv at the summit, citing the need for reforms and the ongoing Russian aggression.

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