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NATO Chief To Make First Visit To Ukraine Next Week

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg will next week make his first visit to Ukraine to hold talks with top officials and launch a joint disaster-management exercise, the alliance says.

He will travel to Lviv and Kyiv on September 21 and September 22 to hold talks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, and the parliament speaker.

He will also attend a meeting of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council.

Ukraine is a key Western partner, but not a member of the 28-nation military alliance.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said last week that "a number of strategic documents" would be approved, notably paving the way for NATO to open an embassy in Ukraine.

The "Ukraine 2015" exercise will be based on "a technological disaster scenario which will also affect the civil population and critical infrastructure elements" throughout Ukraine, NATO said on September 18.

NATO has responded sharply to the Ukraine crisis and Russia's annexation of Crimea by increasing its readiness posture and rotating troops and equipment through its ex-communist eastern members to ease their fears that Moscow might encroach on them.

Based on reporting by AFP and dpa