Kerry arrives in Afghanistan for talks on resolving disputed election
US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Afghanistan on Friday for talks with the country's two presidential candidates on resolving a disputed election.
State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said Kerry would meet with presidential contenders Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, as well as Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
The Independent Election Commission has declared Ghani won the second round of voting on June 14 with 56.44 percent of the vote, according to preliminary results. The tally might change when the final official numbers come out on July 22.
Abdullah, who won the first round of voting, has rejected the preliminary results of last month's runoff as a "coup" against the people.
Rathke said Kerry would press for a thorough review "of all reasonable allegations of fraud," which would entail doing significant additional audits.
"While the United States does not support an individual candidate, we do support a credible, transparent, and inclusive process that affirms the Afghan people's commitment to democracy, and that produces a president who can bring Afghanistan together and govern effectively, " he added
Kerry has warned that any effort to resolve the dispute through violence or any "extra-constitutional means" would cause the United States to withdraw assistance to Afghanistan.
While the United States is drawing down its military presence in Afghanistan, it provides billions of dollars in aid, which helps to find the operations of the Afghan government.
A senior State Department official said that if Washington withdrew support, other donors would follow, which would have a significant impact on the Afghan government's ability to succeed going forward.
"This is extraordinarily in the interest of Afghanistan to get this resolved. Both sides have expressed to the secretary that they want to get to an outcome that is credible, transparent and accepting," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"While we're not coming to impose a solution, but to sort of facilitate that, it is in their interest and expressed desire to get there," said the official, who briefed reporters on route to Kabul. "We're not asking them to so something they don't want themselves."