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Afghan rivals reach deal, easing political crisis
Presidential election » Internationally supervised audit of 8M ballots expected to take weeks.


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The Taliban have intensified their spring offensive in a bid to undermine the Western-backed government. Saturday’s breakthrough came after two roadside bombs killed at least 10 people, authorities said. The Taliban was blamed for the larger attack in Kandahar province.

Kerry repeatedly stressed in his mediation that Washington isn’t taking sides.

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Kubis and other officials said the talks in Kabul focused on the technical particulars of the U.N. audit. Kerry spent significant time hammering home the point that each side must come together at the end of the contest for the good of the country.

With Iraq wracked by an extremist Sunni rebellion, the Obama administration moved quickly to ensure Afghanistan’s political instability also didn’t break out into violence. A prolonged crisis also could have had other security implications for Washington.

Both Ghani and Abdullah have vowed to seal a bilateral security pact with the U.S. that Karzai has refused to sign.

The United States says it needs the legal guarantees in order to leave behind some 10,000 troops in Afghanistan next year. If the pact isn’t finalized, U.S. officials say they may have to pull out all American forces, an undesired scenario that played out three years ago in Iraq.

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Associated Press writer John Daniszewski contributed to this report.




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