BERLIN (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday welcomed the preliminary results in Ukraine's election showing Petro Poroshenko could win enough support to avert a run-off election, though she said that could only be confirmed when full results are in.
"We can only comment on the result when we have the final result of the election," Merkel said. "But if there is a decision for Mr. Poroshenko in the first round that would certainly be good news."
Merkel added she did not want to anticipate the results of the full count. Preliminary results show Poroshenko winning 53.7 percent of the vote and far ahead in a field of 21 candidates.
Merkel said she hoped that first step would lead to a constitutional process in Ukraine and parliamentary elections. She vowed Germany would help accompany that if desired and hoped the European Union can help resolve a gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine this week.
"The talks about gas prices (for Ukraine) are very important for us," said Merkel. "I hope it will be possible to get an agreement this week. It's very, very important."
(Reporting Stephen Brown and Noah Barkin, writing by Erik Kirschbaum)