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KABUL, Afghanistan — The two rival candidates in Afghanistan’s presidential election agreed to abide by the results of a U.N.-supervised recount of the entire poll to settle their dispute over the outcome, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said after talks with both men. The recount was scheduled to begin within 24 hours, but was likely to take several weeks, meaning that a presidential inauguration due on Aug. 2 will be postponed. The deadlock over the June 14 election run-off between the leading contenders, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, has raised concerns about a smooth transition of power in Afghanistan just as U.S.-led troops are leaving.
“Both candidates have committed to participate in and abide by the results of the largest and most comprehensive audit. Every single ballot that was cast will be audited," Kerry told a joint news conference with both candidates, held just before midnight after talks dragged for two days. The stakes are high for the United States. Washington hopes to settle the dispute quickly so it can sign a crucial security pact with Afghanistan allowing a small contingent of U.S. troops to stay in the country beyond this year. Unlike incumbent Hamid Karzai, both Abdullah and Ghani have promised to sign the deal promptly, but the protracted standoff over the vote has delayed the process.
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