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Obama To Meet Ukraine's President-Elect Before Inauguration

Ukraine's President-elect Petro Poroshenko will be inaugurated in Kyiv on June 7.
The White House says U.S. President Barack Obama will meet with Ukrainian President-elect Petro Poroshenko on June 4 in Warsaw, three days before the newly elected leader is due to be inaugurated.

It is unusual for a U.S. president to meet with a head of state before that individual takes office.

Obama is scheduled to be in Warsaw on June 3 and 4. Poroshenko is due to be inaugurated in Kyiv as Ukraine’s president on June 7.

Ben Rhodes, the White House deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, said on May 30 that Poland had also invited some leaders from Ukraine’s Crimean Tatar community to Warsaw next week, and that they also would "be a part of the events" that Obama is participating in there.

Rhodes said those events come at "an important time for Obama to affirm directly to President-elect Poroshenko" that the United States is committed "to the people of Ukraine."

He also said Obama was "very much concerned about the rights of the Crimean Tatars" and had been "gravely concerned about reports that they are not having their basic human rights respected; the restrictions that have been placed on some of their leaders, for instance."

Those restrictions include the denial of entry for Crimean Tatar leaders trying to get back into Crimea from other parts of Ukraine.

Since Crimea’s annexation by Russia, the United Nations has also documented cases of physical harassment, restrictions on Crimean Tatar media, fears of religious persecution among practicing Muslims, and a threat by the Crimean prosecutor that the work of the parliament of the Crimean Tatars may be declared illegal and terminated.

Also in Warsaw, Obama and Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski will host a meeting with the leaders of Eastern and Central European states -- including Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, and Slovakia.

Rhodes said the meetings are part of a wider effort by Obama to reinvigorate the NATO alliance and underline U.S. security guarantees to allies after the Ukraine crisis.

With relations between Moscow and Washington deteriorating over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its role in the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the White House says there are no plans for Obama to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin during Obama's visit to Europe next week.

That announcement was made on May 30 despite confirmation from Washington and Moscow that both Putin and Obama plan to attend a commemoration ceremony in Normandy, France, on June 6 marking the 70th anniversary of the allied D-Day invasion during World War II.

In addition to Poland and France, Obama is also scheduled to attend a Group of Seven summit in Brussels on June 4 and 5 with leaders from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and Italy.

That gathering had originally been scheduled as a Group of Eight gathering at Russia’s Black Sea resort city of Sochi. But the Sochi gathering was cancelled and moved to Brussels after Russia's annexation of Crimea.

Obama and other world leaders also decided to end Russia’s role in the group as a direct response against Russia’s Annexation of Crimea.

In a nod to political and economic reforms in Russia during the 1990s, the G7 had added Russia to the group of leading industrial countries in 1998.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that being kicked out of the group was not "a great misfortune" and that "maybe, for a year or two, it will be an experiment for us to see how we live without it."
With reporting by AP and AFP
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