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John Kerry in Kabul to meet with presidential candidates amid slowed vote audit

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Afghanistan on Thursday to encourage the presidential candidates to work more expediently toward forming a political framework and to expedite the election audit process.
By JC Finley   |   Aug. 7, 2014 at 11:34 AM  |  Updated Aug. 7, 2014 at 1:28 PM

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KABUL, Afghanistan, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Kabul on Thursday to meet with Afghan leaders and presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani.

Afghanistan is in the midst of a presidential vote audit, which was announced during Kerry's July visit to the country following a contested run-off election.

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said that while in Afghanistan Kerry will encourage Abdullah and Ghani "to help accelerate the audit process which they are both participating in, and make progress on the details of the political framework that they agreed to during the Secretary's last visit."

The audit was agreed to last month, and will determine which candidate from the June 14 run-off election succeeds President Hamid Karzai. Preliminary election results showed former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani in the lead with 56.44 percent of the vote, and former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah trailing behind with 43.56 percent.

The audit was temporarily suspended earlier this month amid concerns by both camps of electoral fraud and the process of discounting suspicious ballots. The audit resumed on August 3 with Abdullah's camp deciding to rejoin the audit process after obtaining assurances from the United Nations on necessary changes in the process of invalidating ballots and clarification about certain aspects of the audit.

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