(CNN)In a CNN interview, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday strongly rejected US President Donald Trump’s claim that Ukraine is corrupt. He also said he is ready for another phone call with Trump and open to visiting the White House.
Zelensky spoke wtih CNN’s Christiane Amanpour at the Munich Security Conference in his first one-on-one interview since the end of Trump’s impeachment trial. A July 25 telephone call between the two men, which Trump repeatedly called “perfect,” was at the heart of the impeachment probe. The Senate acquitted Trump earlier this month, finding the President not guilty of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Amanpour quoted a Fox News interview from November in which Trump claimed that Ukraine is known as the third-most corrupt country in the world. In response, Zelensky pushed back and said Kiev fights corruption every day.
“That’s not true. When I had a meeting with President Trump and he said that in previous years (Ukraine) was such a corrupt country, I told him very honestly and I was very open with him. I told him that we fight with corruption. We fight each day,” Zelensky told Amanpour during the town hall interview.
“Please, please stop saying that Ukraine is a corrupt country, because from now, it’s not true. We want to change this image,” he added.
Pressed by Amanpour on how the impeachment proceedings had affected relations between Washington and Kiev, Zelensky asserted Ukraine now has a “very good relationship with the US,” and thanked Trump for his support.
“I want to thank the President, and the USA, and ordinary American people for supporting Ukraine, especially now when we have war. Thank you for your help… We feel it, we feel it with our hearts, with our body,” Zelensky said.
The groundwork for the third impeachment of a US president began in September. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced an impeachment inquiry after an anonymous whistleblower alleged Trump sought re-election help from Zelensky in a July 2019 phone call.
The House alleged a months-long effort by Trump and his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations into the President’s political rivals while Trump withheld $400 million in US security aid and a White House meeting. The House impeached Trump on two articles in December, backed by all but two Democrats.
Zelensky quipped that he always wanted to be popular in the US. “In my previous profession, when I was a producer, scriptwriter and actor, I wanted to get an Oscar, I wan