St. Petersburg, 26 May 2002 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has welcomed Ukraine's plans to join NATO, but says Kyiv is still far from getting membership in the alliance. Powell, traveling with President George W. Bush in Russia, told reporters in St. Petersburg yesterday that he is anxious to hear more about Ukraine's "efforts to prepare themselves" for NATO membership. However, Powell added, "I think they're...we're quite a distance away from starting Ukraine on the formal process toward membership."
Last week, Ukrainian officials said Kyiv plans to present a formal request to join NATO when its chief, Secretary-General Lord George Robertson, visits the country in July. Ukraine has been a member of the NATO-sponsored Partnership for Peace program since 1994.