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Rival Afghan Candidates Meet U.S. Ambassador Amid Deadlock

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Afghanistan's presidential candidates Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai (C) and Abdullah Abdullah hold their arms in the air together after announcing a deal for the auditing of all Afghan election votes earlier this summer. (file photo)

The U.S. ambassador in Kabul brokered talks between Afghanistan’s rival presidential candidates on September 18, a day after negotiations on forming a unity government stalled in a dispute over when and how to release the final election results.

It was not immediately clear whether U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham was able to bridge differences between former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani.

On September 16, the two candidates reportedly were close to a power-sharing deal.

But Abdullah’s spokesman Mujib Rahimi said late on September 17 that Abdullah would quit talks on a unity government if the results of an internationally monitored election audit were released before the candidates reach a deal.

Rahimi also said Abdullah wants the auditors to invalidate more of the ballots cast for Ghani.

Ghani, who is widely expected to be the victor, rejected that demand.

With reporting by Reuters