KIEV, Ukraine--Ukraine's president pledged last night to rid his newly independent republic of all nuclear weapons by the year 2000.
The pledge could put pressure on Russia and two other republics in the former Soviet Union to move quickly to reduce or eliminate their nuclear weapons as well.
The assertion by Ukrainian President Leonid M. Kravchuk and his commitment to adhere to the principles of human rights pleased Secretary of State James A. Baker III.
Baker, at a joint news conference after a three-hour meeting with the one-time senior Communist Party official, said Ukraine "is in the fore-front" of all 12 republics in its commitment to democracy.
"From the standpoint of the United States they couldn't have been more satisfactory," Baker said.
The stop here was the last for Baker in a tour of five newly independent republics, four of which have nuclear weapons on their territory. His message was twofold: dismantle nuclear weapons and place those remaining in safe storage; practice democratic principles.