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US Welcomes Ukrainian Court Call for New Election


The United States Friday welcomed the Ukrainian Supreme Court decision annulling the results of last month's presidential election and calling for a new vote. U.S. officials are urging all parties, including Russia, to support the process underway.

The United States had refused to accept the results of the November 21 presidential run-off election, which was deemed fraudulent by international observers including U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar.

In coordinated statements, the White House and State Department welcomed the Ukrainian Supreme Court decision Friday throwing out the election result and calling for a new vote, expected within three weeks.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan called the court ruling an important step toward a peaceful, democratic solution to the election impasse that reflects the wishes of the Ukrainian people.

He said it is important that the will of the people prevails, and the court decision is part of the legal and political process for meeting that objective.

The United States has insisted that it had no favorite candidate in the presidential run-off.

But it had accused Ukrainian authorities and state-run media of bias in favor of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, who was declared the winner of the November vote over the pro-Western opposition candidate, former Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko.

At a news briefing, State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said the U.S. administration is are studying all aspects of Friday's court ruling, and is encouraged that the apparent solution to Ukraine's political crisis came from within that country's legal system:

"The point that I'm trying to make is that it's not our formula, it's the Ukrainian formula," said Richard Boucher. "What we have wanted all along is for Ukrainian institutions, for Ukrainian people, to be able to decide how to resolve the turmoil, how to move forward, who to have as their future leaders. And that's what we wanted, that's all we wanted, and that's what happening."

The Ukrainian election standoff had generated some tension between the United States and Russia, which had been quick to embrace the initial announcement of victory for the pro-Russian Mr. Yanukovych, with Russian President Vladimir Putin openly opposing a new election.

A senior diplomat who spoke to reporters here said a solution that allows Ukrainians to decide the issue in a free and fair way will be best for all interested parties, both inside the country and abroad.

He said the United States accepts and supports that, and as he put it: "we think the Russians should support that too".

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