Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denied on Friday that there were any conditions for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to meet with President Donald Trump at the White House, though America’s top diplomat wouldn’t say when that potential meeting would happen.
Pompeo held a post-meeting press conference with Zelensky in Kyiv, during which a reporter asked if the White House expected the Ukrainian president to announce an investigation into Joe Biden in exchange for the meeting Zelensky desperately needs.
“No, there’s no condition of the nature you described for President Zelensky to come to Washington and have that visit,” Pompeo replied. “It’s just simply not the case.”
However, the secretary of state declined to give a specific date or even an approximate time frame for the visit, saying only that “we’ll find a right time.”
“We want to make sure that it happens at a time when there are substantial progress, things that we can deliver between the two of us,” he told reporters.
Pompeo said he and Zelensky had discussed “economic opportunity for American businesses” in Ukraine during their private meeting.
“President Zelensky will be welcome to come to Washington when we have an opportunity to do good things for the Ukrainian people and the American people,” he repeated.
Zelensky seemed a little more emphatic about the issue, stressing to Pompeo that he was readily available for the meeting.
“With all due respect to the United States of America, when we have the subject matter of the talk except strategy and tactics but also important things we can agree upon, what we can sign, what we can get done, I am ready to go tomorrow,” he said through an interpreter.
Trump’s scheme to withhold congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine and a White House meeting to coerce Zelensky into announcing a Biden investigation is at the center of the impeachment proceedings against the President.
During a House impeachment hearing in November, diplomat David Holmes testified that even though Trump has finally released the military aid to Ukraine, Zelensky is still under Trump’s grip because a White House meeting has yet to materialize. Holmes emphasized the importance of such a meeting for Zelensky, who needs to prove to Russian President Vladimir Putin that the U.S. supports Ukraine in its war with Russia.
Watch Pompeo below:
Pompeo says the Ukrainian president is "welcome" to visit the White House "at a time when there are substantial progress, things that we can deliver between the two of us." pic.twitter.com/8PP2zz1lmi
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) January 31, 2020