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Obama calls for deal on Afghan unity government

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Washington, Sep 8 (IANS) US President Barack Obama urged two Afghan presidential candidates to conclude a deal on a national unity government “as soon as possible”, the White House said on Sunday.

Obama spoke over phone with Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani on Saturday, telling them the unity government is “in the interest of shoring up international support for Afghanistan and preserving Afghan stability”, Xinhua quoted the White House as saying in a statement.

The president also reaffirmed US commitment to “support Afghanistan, its people, and the president and chief executive, should the agreement be formalized, in their efforts to form a new unity government,” said the statement.

The Afghan presidential election was held on April 5 and since none of the eight candidates had won more than 50 percent of the votes, two leading candidates Abdullah and Ghani went for a runoff on June 14.

Preliminary results showed that Ghani went ahead. However, former Foreign Minister Abdullah refused to accept the outcome and accused the election commissions of committing fraud and demanded a vote recount.

US Secretary of State John Kerry brokered an agreement between the two candidates on July 12, breaking the election deadlock and paving the way for the formation of a national unity government.

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