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Zelenskiy Says U.S. Secretaries Of State, Defense To Visit Kyiv

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (right) and Secretary of State Antony Blinken (3rd right) look on.U.S. President Joe Biden (2nd right) participates in a meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba (2nd left) and Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov (left) in Warsaw on March 26.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (right) and Secretary of State Antony Blinken (3rd right) look on.U.S. President Joe Biden (2nd right) participates in a meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba (2nd left) and Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov (left) in Warsaw on March 26.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has told a news conference that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and defense chief Lloyd Austin will visit Kyiv on April 24.

"Tomorrow, the American officials are coming to visit us; I will meet the defense secretary [Austin] and Antony Blinken," he told reporters on April 23.

If it takes place, the visit would mark the highest-profile arrival by U.S. officials following a series of visits by European leaders to war-ravaged Ukraine's capital.

Following the other visits, the Biden administration had been under pressure to send a high-level representative to Ukraine as a show of support amid Russia's brutal invasion of the country.

Zelenskiy told the news conference that he would discuss with the U.S. officials the types of weapons needed by Ukraine in its fight against Russia's unprovoked attack.

There was no immediate comment from the U.S. side, which has said it was considering a visit but that Biden himself would not travel to Ukraine.

Zelenskiy also issued a fresh call for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a bid to "put an end to the war."

"I think that whoever started this war will be able to end it," he told the televised news conference, held at a metro station in central Ukraine.

"From the beginning, I have insisted on talks with the Russian president," he said.

"It's not that I want [to meet him]; it's that I have to meet him so as to settle this conflict by diplomatic means."

"We have confidence in our partners, but we have no confidence in Russia," he added.

The Ukrainian leader repeated his warning that Kyiv would break off talks if Russia killed the remaining Ukrainian soldiers holding out in a steel plant in the besieged port of Mariupol.

Talks have been held with little or no progress between Ukrainian and Russian officials.

Zelenskiy also spoke with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson by phone on April 23 to discuss Kyiv's military needs.

Johnson's office said the British leader told Zelenskiy that Britain would reopen its embassy in Kyiv next week.

Most countries closed their embassies in Kyiv following Russia's February 24 invasion, but many have reopened their diplomatic posts after Ukrainian resistance forced Russian troops to retreat from around the capital.

Johnson told Zelenskiy that the British government was continuing its efforts to help collect evidence of Russian war crimes.

He also told the Ukrainian leader that more defensive weapons -- including vehicles, drones, and anti-tank missiles -- would be sent to help Kyiv in its battle against Russian forces.

"The prime minister ended by reiterating the U.K.'s unwavering support for the people of Ukraine and committed to continue working with international partners to provide the assistance necessary to help Ukraine defend itself," Downing Street said.

Andriy Sybiha, the Ukrainian president's deputy chief of staff, said Zelenskiy spoke with Johnson about a "new phase" of military aid, including the provision of heavy weapons.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, AP, Reuters, and AFP

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