Ukrainian President begins visit to Israel

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The Independent Online
TEL AVIV (Reuter) - President Leonid Kravchuk of Ukraine began a state visit to Israel aimed at improving relations between Ukrainians and Jews and forging a balanced Middle East policy. Several senior cabinet ministers accompanied Mr Kravchuk on his three-day trip, which will focus on economic, cultural and scientific co-operation.

He also plans to meet representatives of some 200,000 former Ukrainian Jews who are now Israelis. 'We are doing everything to put an end to the myth that Ukrainians are anti-Semites,' Viktor Nagaichuk, head of the Foreign Ministry's Middle East section, said.

Welcoming Mr Kravchuk at Tel Aviv airport, the Israeli Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, said the visit 'is particularly important because we are mutually interested in strengthening our cultural and economic relations'. Mr Kravchuk went straight to Jerusalem for lunch with President Chaim Herzog.