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Vice President Joe Biden told Ukrainian political leaders that the United States stands with them against "humiliating threats" and encouraged them to root out corruption as they rebuild their government.
In the most high-level visit of a U.S. official since crisis erupted in Ukraine, Biden told leaders from various political parties on Tuesday that he brings a message of support from President Barack Obama as they face a historic opportunity to usher in reforms.
"The opportunity to generate a united Ukraine and getting it right is within your grasp," Biden said. "And we want to be your partner and friend in the project. We're ready to assist."
Biden spoke to nine Ukrainians in a hearing room with gilded moldings at the parliament, or Rada, as the media looked on. The group included three candidates running for president in the May 25 election — most notably billionaire chocolate magnate and front-runner Petro Poroshenko. Biden told the candidates he hopes that they have more luck than he did in two presidential runs.
The vice president's visit comes at a critical time, days after a tenuous international agreement was reached to de-escalate violence in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russia insurgents oppose the government in Kiev.
"You face some very daunting problems and some might say humiliating threats are taking place," Biden said.