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Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukrainian leader, bristles at release of Trump transcript

by Ace Damon
Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukrainian leader, bristles at release of Trump transcript

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KYIV, Ukraine (AP) – President of Ukraine says his comments in a conversation with US President Trump should not have been publicly disclosed and is downplaying Ukraine's investigation of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

The White House published an approximate transcript of Trump's phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday, showing that Trump pressed Ukraine to "investigate" its rival Biden. The July 25 call is now at the center of an impeachment investigation in the US.

"I think these things, these conversations between heads of independent states, should not be published," Zelensky told reporters at the UN General Assembly in New York. He did not indicate whether the White House warned him that comments would be made public.

But he also said that he is "not afraid" of the publication and that "no one can pressure me." He said Biden's investigation is just one of "many cases I talk to leaders in other countries."

The office of the Ukrainian Prosecutor General, the office of former President Petro Poroshenko and other Ukrainian government officials would not comment to the Associated Press about Biden's transcript or investigation on Thursday.

While acknowledging that Biden's investigation is well known in the United States, Zelensky said, "I don't know the details of this case."

"Different leaders talk to me at many international meetings on various criminal cases," he said, noting other examples from Italy and Turkey. "I talk about cases like that every day."

At a meeting with Zelensky on Wednesday in New York, Trump says he has not pressured the Ukrainian leader. But the brief transcript of the call shows that Trump repeatedly urged Zelensky to work with the US Attorney General and Trump's personal lawyer to investigate Biden, the former US vice president.

The call is the subject of Trump's complaint against Trump and the basis of the decision of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to open an impeachment inquiry.

Zelensky also tried to ease tensions with Germany and France after the transcript revealed critical comments to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.

"I am grateful for any help to Ukraine from our European leaders, Merkel, Macron and others," he said.

But he maintained criticism of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project to send Russian gas to Europe. He called it "a major threat to our energy security" and said Ukraine would lose billions of dollars.

Merkel's office declined to comment on Trump's remarks in the transcript that the German leader "speaks of Ukraine, but she does nothing". Germany's Foreign Ministry provided figures contesting Trump's account, telling the Associated Press that since 2014, German direct support to Ukraine totaled 1.18 billion euros, plus another 200 million euros with European Union support. .

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This story has been corrected to show that the transcript was published Wednesday, not Thursday.

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