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U.S. Congratulates Ukraine On Quality Of Vote

Yanukovych (left) and Tymoshenko go into the second round
WASHINGTON -- The United States has congratulated Ukraine on the quality of the first round of its presidential election.

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley notes that the Organization For Security And Cooperation In Europe (OSCE), one of several groups that monitored the vote, found that the election had been conducted far better than previous Ukrainian elections.

"We congratulate the Ukrainian people on the conduct of their January 17 presidential elections, which the OSCE deemed to have been high-quality, showing significant progress over previous elections," Crowley said.

"This is another significant demonstration of the development of democracy in Ukraine. The U.S. looks forward to free and fair runoff elections on February 7, and working with whomever the Ukrainians choose as their next president."

Opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych won 35 percent of the vote, compared with 25 percent for Yulia Tymoshenko, and 5.5 percent for outgoing President Viktor Yushchenko.

A runoff election will be held on February 7.