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Continued: Kerry holds meetings in Kabul, but deal elusive on how to settle disputed presidential vote

  • Article by: BRADLEY KLAPPER , Associated Press
  • Last update: July 11, 2014 - 11:48 PM

Both Ghani and Abdullah have vowed to sign a bilateral security pact with Washington, which says it needs the legal guarantees in order to leave behind some 10,000 boots on the ground in Afghanistan after most American troops pull out over the next five months.

If no clear leader emerges, the U.S. may have to bring home all its forces, an unwanted scenario that played out in Iraq just three years ago. Karzai has refused to sign the agreement, leaving it in the hands of his successor.

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. Washington has significant additional leverage. If it were to cut back on its ties with Kabul, many European nations would soon follow.

Kerry urged patience from all sides. With Abdullah at his side, the top American diplomat said the preliminary results announced four days ago "are neither authoritative nor final, and no one should be stating a victory at this point in time."

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  • A group of young Afghan anti-fraud activists physically chain themselves together to block the entrance to the Kabul Airport during a demonstration in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, July 11, 2014. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sought Friday to broker a deal between Afghanistan's rival presidential candidates as a bitter dispute over last month's runoff election risked spiraling out of control. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talks with Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah, left, at the start of a meeting at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, July 11, 2014. Kerry sought Friday to broker a deal between Afghanistan's rival presidential candidates as a bitter dispute over last month's runoff election risked spiraling out of control.(AP Photo/Jim Bourg, Pool)

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