By Pavel Polityuk
KIEV (Reuters) – U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton flew into Kiev on Tuesday for talks to gauge Ukraine’s new authorities and touted a possible meeting between comic-turned-president Volodymyr Zelenskiy and U.S. President Donald Trump.
Bolton’s visit was the first by a senior U.S. official since Zelenskiy swept to power in Ukraine. Washington is a key ally for Kiev, having imposed sanctions on Russia for annexing Crimea in 2014 and backing pro-Moscow separatists in Ukraine’s east.
The pro-Western Zelenskiy, a television comedy star, scored a landslide election victory in the former Soviet republic in May and strengthened his power base at a parliamentary election last month.
“For me this is an opportunity to talk about some priorities we have and really also, because of the new administration here, to hear their priorities,” Bolton told reporters, adding that a meeting between Trump and Zelenskiy could happen soon.
“We expect to have a chance for the two of them to talk in Poland,” he said, without giving a possible date.
Trump is expected to travel to Poland and Denmark from Aug. 31 to Sept. 3, the White House said last month.
Bolton also used a briefing with reporters to warn of what he said was the threat to countries of being lured into business deals with China by attractive financial terms and of becoming dependent on Chinese money. “We call this debt diplomacy. It is a very serious problem,” he said.
Neighbouring Belarus’s presidential office said on Tuesday that Bolton was due to travel to Belarus and to meet President Alexander Lukashenko. Minsk gave no date, but said the meeting would not be before Thursday.
(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk in KIEV with additional reporting by Maria Vasilyeva in MOSCOW; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Katya Golubkova and Mark Heinrich)