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Ukraine president: 'No blackmail' in conversation with Trump KYIV, Ukraine

Deanna Wagner | 12 October, 2019, 05:00

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said there was "no blackmail" in a phone call with Donald Trump that is at the heart of a possible attempt to remove the USA president from office.

"There was no blackmail", Zelensky told reporters when asked about the July 25th call.

Mr. Zelensky - tieless in a dark grey suit - said he would be willing to open a "joint investigation" into Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company that in 2014 hired Hunter Biden onto its board of directors.

Zelenskiy said the USA has not provided any details of such interference.

Mr Zelenskiy said he had no desire to interfere in the United States election next year but added that he was prepared to do a joint investigation into Burisma.

"I told him. please help to resolve it", Zelenskiy recalls.

The White House published its summary of the call between Mr Zelensky and Mr Trump in September.

Putin said that Russian Federation is supportive of the initiatives to bring peace to the separatist-held eastern Ukraine where 13,000 people have died since 2014 but said it is up to Zelenskiy and the Ukrainian establishment to see through the accords. But the impeachment hearings mean that Ukraine will remain a central player in the US drama through the 2020 presidential election and beyond.

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"I don't want to interfere in any way in the [U.S.] elections", he said.

Asked whether the Ukrainian version matched up to the U.S. one, Mr Zelensky said: "I didn't even check, but I think that it matches completely".

'And in case we need to find a solution to questions of this level, questions about our country's security, we use all our powerful possibilities.' He didn't elaborate.

Zelenskiy said the "key question" for him was to try to persuade the White House to "change its rhetoric" about Ukraine as a corrupt and untrustworthy country.

Zelenskiy said he had no desire to interfere in the USA election next year but added that he was prepared to do a joint investigation into Burisma.

A TV and film comedian, Zelenskiy overwhelmingly won the presidency in April on promises to fight corruption and end the five-year conflict with Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

CNN previously reported that unsettled aides also immediately began quizzing each other about whether they should alert senior officials who were not on the call - mainly those at the Justice Department, since Trump had invoked the agency's boss, Attorney General Bill Barr, multiple times during the 30-minute talk. Ukrainian officials have said there is no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens. Ukrainian President is holding an all-day "media marathon" in a Kyiv food court amid growing questions about his actions as president.

Zelenskiy also joked about Trump's Twitter missives, saying he doesn't expect a change in U.S.

"(In that case) ... we would stop going, for the near future, under this government, we would stop pursuing that path and will look for other options", he told reporters.