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Ukraine President Meets Party Leaders to Discuss Possible Coalition


Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko has held separate talks about a future government with the leaders of the two parties that won the most support in Sunday's parliamentary elections.

Officials at Mr. Yushchenko's office said the talks Tuesday with former Prime Ministers Viktor Yanukovych and Yulia Timoshenko were "preliminary" and focused on consolidating Ukrainian society ahead of efforts to form a coalition..

Latest vote tallies showed the pro-Russian Regions Party of Mr. Yanukovych leading with 31 percent of the vote, the bloc led by Ms. Timoshenko with 22 percent, and the president's Our Ukraine bloc with about 15 percent.

After meeting the president, Ms. Timoshenko expressed confidence that negotiations on a coalition deal would likely be completed in a week.

President Yushchenko fired Ms. Timoshenko last year in response to infighting in the Cabinet, dividing the reformist movement that came to power in 2004.

European election observers say that Sunday's vote was free and fair.

A White House spokesman also praised the vote and said the United States looks forward to working with Ukraine's new government, once it is formed.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.