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Putin to respect new Ukraine election -- Germany
Updated: 2004-11-30 20:17

Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed in a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Tuesday to respect the results of any new election in Ukraine, the German government said.

The three-sentence statement from the government suggested a softening of Moscow's position and appeared to increase the likelihood of a new poll to resolve a week-old crisis triggered by the country's disputed presidential election on Nov. 21.

"Chancellor Schroeder and Russian President Vladimir Putin had another telephone conversation today in which they discussed the situation in Ukraine," the statement said.

"Their conversation addressed, in particular, the question of how to find a political solution, assuring Ukraine's territorial integrity and both parties' ability to enter into talks.

"The chancellor and the Russian president were in agreement that the results of a new election, based on Ukraine law and the will of the Ukraine people, would be strictly respected."

Outgoing Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma signaled a shift in position on Monday, backing the idea of a new poll to defuse a standoff threatening to tear Ukraine apart. The opposition, led by West-leaning Viktor Yushchenko, has demanded assurances that any new vote be held quickly.

Until now, Putin has openly supported pro-Moscow candidate Viktor Yanukovich. Last week he congratulated him on winning the election.

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