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Jill Biden meets with Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska at White House


(WASHINGTON) — First lady Jill Biden and her Ukrainian counterpart, Olena Zelenska, met at the White House on Tuesday.

President Joe Biden was also there on the South Lawn to welcome Zelenska, presenting Ukraine’s first lady with a bouquet of yellow sunflowers, blue hydrangeas and white orchids.

The meeting between the two first ladies is one of several appearances Zelenska will make this week in Washington as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine stretches into its sixth month.

Russian troops have stepped up attacks across Ukraine’s eastern and southern regions with missile strikes. Last week, a 4-year-old girl was killed in a strike targeting the city of Vinnytsia.

On Monday, Zelenska met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power. State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that Blinken underscored the U.S. commitment to the people of Ukraine and commended Zelenska on her work supporting civilians during the conflict.

On Wednesday, Ukraine’s first lady will make remarks before members of the House and Senate on Capitol Hill.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Zelenska will address the conflict’s toll on women and children.

“The brutality of Russian aggression and the treatment of women and children have horrified the American people, and these crimes have been of particular concern to the women Members of Congress,” Pelosi said in a letter to colleagues previewing the event.

“We look forward to hearing First Lady Zelenska report on this situation, as well as offer insight on security, economic and humanitarian conditions on the ground,” Pelosi added.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy received a standing ovation after virtually addressing members of Congress in the early days of the conflict.

Zelenska spoke to ABC “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts last month on the state of the war. She described being separated from her husband since the conflict broke out in February and the global support the nation has received.

In the interview, she also implored the American people “not get used to this war.”

“Otherwise, we are risking a never-ending war and this is not something we would like to have,” she said. “Don’t get used to our pain.”

As the two first ladies took their seats in the White House Diplomatic Reception Room, Jill Biden said they would talk about mental health issues for mothers and children who have “suffered such tragedy and the atrocities.”

This isn’t the first time Biden and Zelenska have met. Biden made a surprise visit to Ukraine in May during Mother’s Day, meeting with Zelenska at a school in a small town in western Ukraine.

“I wanted to come on Mother’s Day,” Biden told the Ukrainian first lady. “I thought it was important to show the Ukrainian people that this war has to stop and this war has been brutal and that the people of the United States stand with the people of Ukraine.”

ABC News’ John Parkinson contributed to this report.

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