The Bush administration Tuesday continued active support for European mediation of Ukraine's election crisis. President Bush spoke by telephone with Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski, who is due to return to Kiev on another crisis mission Wednesday.
The United States is not pressing its own formula for resolving the political impasse that has paralyzed Ukraine since its disputed presidential election November 21.
But it is actively supporting European mediation efforts, with President Bush calling his Polish counterpart Mr. Kwasniewski, who along with European Union chief diplomat Javier Solana, has taken a lead role in trying to reconcile the two political camps in Ukraine.
At a news conference in Ottawa with Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, Mr. Bush said he expressed appreciation for the effort by the Polish leader to get the Ukrainian parties to engage in dialogue and reject violence, and that their common goal is "to see the will of the Ukrainian people prevail."
State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke with Mr. Solana Tuesday, just before the EU official left Brussels for Kiev.
He also said that Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who visited Kiev earlier this year, telephoned the two Ukrainian presidential contenders, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich and former Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko late Monday.
At a news briefing, spokesman Boucher said Mr. Armitage urged both men to look for peaceful, democratic ways to resolve all questions related to what he termed the "fraudulent" election. He said the second-ranking State Department official also made specific appeals to each contender:
"The deputy secretary conveyed to Prime Minister Yanukovich our strong objections to any separatist initiatives, and to urge the government and his supporters to refrain from any use of force," said Mr. Boucher. "With Mr. Yuschenko, Mr. Armitage spoke of the importance of the continuing peaceful and orderly nature of the protests, and to support the deliberations underway to resolve the crisis."
Tens of thousands of supporters of Mr. Yuschenko, the pro-Western opposition leader, have been in the streets of Kiev since the election to back claims that there was massive vote fraud in favor of the proclaimed winner, Mr. Yanukovich.
Areas of eastern Ukraine supporting the pro-Russian Mr. Yanukovich have made secession threats, prompting calls from the United States and others for the preservation of Ukraine's territorial integrity.
The Ukrainian parliament has declared the election results invalid and the country's supreme court began hearing opposition complaints of fraud earlier this week.
The United States and its West European allies have refused to accept the official results, though Moscow has congratulated the nominal winner, Mr. Yanukovich, and has complained of Western meddling.
Secretary Powell has discussed the Ukraine situation twice in recent days with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, including a talk on Monday.
Spokesman Boucher said the tone of the conversations was not threatening, and that Russian officials have said that, like the United States, they are looking for a peaceful outcome that rests on Ukrainian legal and political processes.