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Obama Congratulates Yanukovych On Victory

Supporters of Viktor Yanukovych display his image in Kyiv.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama has congratulated Viktor Yanukovych for his win in Ukraine's presidential race and commended the conduct of the February 7 election, the White House said today.

"This peaceful expression of the political will of Ukrainian voters is another positive step in strengthening democracy in Ukraine," the White House said in a statement after the two spoke on the phone.

Obama's phone call could lend support to Yanukovych amid concerns about a standoff with Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who refused to concede defeat and vowed that her government would not resign voluntarily.

The White House said Obama wished Yanukovych "success in carrying out his mandate" and "commended the Ukrainian people" on the conduct of the vote.

"They agreed on the importance of continuing cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation," the statement said.