( ForUm ) - Ukraine will be Palestine's partner in the Middles East peace process, President Viktor Yushchenko told reporters in Jerusalem on Thursday. "I would like to confirm to the leadership of the Palestinian National Authority that Ukraine is their partner and ally in the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," he said.
Yushchenko said Ukraine's stance on how to settle the conflict had always been "balanced" and impartial and added that both states had the "right to exist." He said it was important today to "formalize the implementation" of the Middle East Peace Plan. "This is the only document passed under the aegis of the UN Security Council which gives an international answer to the question how the international community sees the settlement plan. Ukraine is in the context of this plan," he said.
He said Ukraine wanted to become a participant of the Middle East peace process and could host Israeli-Palestinian talks to help the sides reach a greater understanding, the President's press office reports.
The President said Ukraine should have "more active diplomatic contacts" with the region and suggested opening an embassy in Palestine. He added he planned to develop Ukraine's relations with Palestine in an "adequate and balanced manner" and expressed concerns over Palestine's ongoing humanitarian crisis. He is particularly worried Ukrainian citizens living in Palestine and mixed families cannot leave the state or visit Ukraine. "I am convinced this is also Ukraine's problem, a problem for discussions," he said, adding that he had recently signed a decree to send humanitarian aid to Palestine.
Yushchenko also suggested renewing educational cooperation between Ukraine and Palestine and said his country was interested in developing special economic zones in Palestine.