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Wednesday August 31st, 2016 3:57AM

Obama praises Ukrainians for going to the polls

By The Associated Press
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (AP) - President Barack Obama is praising the people of Ukraine for participating in presidential voting ``despite provocations and violence.''

He's singling out those ``courageous Ukrainians'' who cast ballots in parts of eastern Ukraine where Russian-backed separatists tried to block voting.

Obama says the U.S. is eager to work with Ukraine's next president and a democratically elected parliament, and to support the country's efforts to enact political and economic reforms.

He says Ukrainians have shown over the past few months a desire to pick their leaders ``without interference'' and determine their future ``free of violence and intimidation.''

Obama says the U.S. supports Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and rejects Russia's ``occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea.''

The White House released Obama's statement while he was in Afghanistan on Sunday.
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