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Tony Abbott: 'It's Nice To Be Popular, Even If It's Only In Ukraine'

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (left) and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott share a joke as they meet at the federal government offices in Melbourne today. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Prime Minister Tony Abbott was one of the most popular foreign leaders in his country during his visit to Australia today.

“I want to use this opportunity to invite the Prime Minister of Australia to visit Kiev at the beginning of next year and we are waiting for you and I told him that he’s one of the most popular foreign politicians in Ukraine,” Poroshenko said.

Abbott delivered one of his signature awkward chuckles in responding, saying. “I said to President Petro Poroshenko that it’s nice to be popular, even if only in Kiev”.

A Fairfax poll this month had Abbott’s disapproval rating rising to 57%. He also trails opposition leader Bill Shorten (47%) by eight points as preferred prime minister (39%).

Poroshenko took the opportunity to thank Australia for supporting the Ukraine in the aftermath of the MH17 tragedy and said there are avenues where the relationship could be expanded.

We thank Australia for supporting us in the military technical cooperation, including non-lethal, including supply of the warm clothes for the Ukrainian Army.

We have a potential sphere of our cooperation for agriculture, which is a leading industry both for Australia and for Ukraine and exchange of experience, exchange of the prognosis, coordination of our analytic services which is mutually beneficial.

And we appreciate very much that the Australian Government decision to open the embassy in Kiev, I think this is also good, not only practical but very symbolic meaning to have your ambassador in Kiev and we are also absolutely sure that that will help us to increase the cooperation between us.

Abbott said he has discussed the potential for Australian uranium and coal to be exported to the Ukraine.

“Australia is an energy superpower and energy security is very important to Ukraine, particularly given its current vulnerability to supply shocks. So, this would be good should we be able to bring it about for jobs and prosperity in Australia as well as for jobs and prosperity in the Ukraine,” he said.

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