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Ukraine Vote Must be Free of Outside Influence, Bush Says

President Bush says if new elections are held in Ukraine they must be fair, open and free of any foreign influence. Mr. Bush insists the will of the Ukrainian people must be known and heard.

President Bush says any new election in Ukraine must meet certain standards.

"Any election in any country must reflect the will of the people and not that of any foreign government," the president said.

The president was asked about the possibility of new elections in Ukraine during a brief question and answer session with Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Mr. Bush once again thanked European leaders who are trying to mediate the Ukrainian crisis. He said he is watching their efforts closely.

"We will continue to monitor and be involved in the process that encourages there to be a peaceful resolution of this issue," he said. "And there are different options on the table and we are watching carefully what has taken place."

He spoke shortly after outgoing Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma met in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin. During that meeting, Mr. Putin criticized calls for a new election in Ukraine.

A presidential election on November 21 pitted pro-Russian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych against Western-leaning opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko.

Despite allegations of massive fraud by both the opposition and international observers, Mr. Yanukovych was declared the winner, prompting massive demonstration in the streets of Kiev and other cities.