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Watch again: Israeli, Ukrainian leaders commemorate Babi Yar massacre in Kyiv

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By Alice Tidey
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Kyiv on August 19, 2019.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Kyiv on August 19, 2019.   -   Copyright  REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday became the first foreign leader to visit Ukraine since the election of former actor Volodymyr Zelensky as President of the eastern European country.

The two-day visit comes as Netanyahu is campaigning ahead of snap elections in mid-September after he failed to form of governing coalition following an inconclusive ballot in April.

Some experts believe the visit has also been planned by Netanyahu in an effort to woo Ukrainian Jewish voters.

'Visa-free regime'

The two leaders met this morning for private talks which were later enlarged to include their entourage.

Several bilateral actions were signed including an agreement for visa-free travel between the two countries, according to a statement from the Ukrainian presidency.

"Recently, our countries have been actively cooperating in the field of migration. I am speaking of numerous denials to enter Israel to Ukrainian citizens," Zelensky said.

"Citizens of both countries should fully use the benefits of the visa-free regime. And there shouldn't be delays of thousands of Ukrainian citizens on the Israeli border, " he added in a statement.

They also took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Holodomor Victims' Memorial — commemorating the man-made famine of 1932-1933 in which millions of Ukrainians lost their lives.

The tragedy is considered an act of genocide from the leadership of the Soviet Union by Ukraine and 17 other countries including the United States. Russia, however, denies it constitutes ethnic genocide.

Zelensky has called on Netanyahu to recognise it as such.

"Ukraine and Israel have long-standing historical ties. Our nations have together experienced all the tragedies in recent history — the Holodomor and the Holocaust, the Second World War, the totalitarian Soviet regime," Ukraine's President said.

The two leaders also attended a ceremony to commemorate the victims of the Babi Yar massacre. nearly 34,000 Jews were killed by Nazi troops on September 29-30, 1941 in the largest mass killing carried out by the Nazi regime at an individual location.

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