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Kerry Holds More Talks In Kabul

Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah (left) shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Kabul on July 11, 2014.
Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah (left) shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Kabul on July 11, 2014.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry holds a second day of meetings in Kabul on July 12 in a bid to resolve Afghanistan's disputed presidential election.

Kerry arrived in Kabul July 11 for talks with the two presidential contenders, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, as well as incumbent President Hamid Karzai.

Kerry said the United States was trying to create a process that confers legitimacy on whoever emerges as the rightful leader of Afghanistan.

He met with Abdullah and Ghani again on July 12, and was due to meet Karzai later in the day.

Preliminary results from a June 14 runoff vote put Ghani in the lead, but Abdullah rejected the result, calling it a "coup" against the people.

U.S. President Barack Obama spoke to each candidate this week, warning that any move outside the law to seize power would mean the end of U.S. financial aid to Afghanistan.

Karzai's office issued a statement after his talks with Kerry, quoting the president as saying that "any solution taken through legal means and is agreed by the candidates is acceptable."

Ghani said at the start of a meeting with Kerry that he was committed to an "intensive and extensive" audit of votes.

"Our commitment is to ensure that the election process enjoys the integrity and the legitimacy that the people of Afghanistan and the world will believe in," Ghani said.

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Kerry welcomed Ghani's stance.

"No one is declaring victory at this time," he said. "The results have yet to be finalized."

Up to 3 million ballots out of a total of 8 million could be challenged in an official review by electoral officials.

Meanwhile, Abdullah's second vice-presidential running mate, Mohammad Mohaqeq, has called for a one-year transitional government if the dispute is not resolved.

In an interview with Bloomberg published July 11, Mohaqeq said the Independent Election Commission must be "reformed" and a "reelection should take place nationwide."

On July 9, the U.S. envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, James Dobbins, called a national unity government a "necessity" for Afghanistan.

But U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki later clarified Dobbins' remarks, saying, “It is for the next president of Afghanistan to determine the composition of the government.”

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP