US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived early Friday in Ukraine, first leg of a trip which is due to take her also to Poland and the Caucasus.
This is Clinton's first visit to Kiev since the February poll win of President Viktor Yanukovych who had reversed the pro-Western stance of his predecessor Viktor Yushchenko.
Washington wants to "go beyond the notion" that central European countries "need to choose whether they're going to be pro-Russian or pro-American," Phil Gordon, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, said ahead of the trip.
In Kiev Clinton is to open the US-Ukrainian Strategic Partnership Commission, which provides for increased cooperation on a range of issues including energy and trade, security and defense, and cultural exchanges.
She will meet with Yanukovych and Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Gryshchenko, as well as members of non-governmental groups and independent media leaders, said State Department spokesman Philip Crowley.
On Saturday she is due to depart for Krakow in Poland and then wrap up her voyage in the Caucasus, with stops in Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia before returning Tuesday to Washington.