Kerry's Afghan Visit Smooths Disputed Election

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Secretary of State John Kerry is in Afghanistan for the second time in less than a month. The two presidential candidates have agreed to resolve the disputed election and set an inauguration date.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And let's turn now to Afghanistan. That country has been in a political crisis since a disputed presidential election back in June. Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah said, the vote was rigged in favor of his opponent Ashraf Ghani and he said he would not recognize the results.

And that threatened to splinter the country, but this morning, both candidates stood alongside U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Kabul and said they had signed a deal to form a national unity government.

NPR's Sean Carberry covered that press conference and is on the line from Kabul. Sean, what's the substance of this deal?

SEAN CARBERRY, BYLINE: Well, they communicate the issue today is largely a reaffirmation of what they agreed to almost three weeks ago when Secretary Kerry first came to Afghanistan. The agreement is that they will abide by the current audit that's going on of all votes cast in the election. They are working to complete it by the end of this month. They also agreed to continue progress on a political agreement that will create a national unity government, which will give a post of a key executive officer position to whoever is the loser. They say they are now committed to fleshing out the details of that agreement and again, they have signed this document today saying they have, you know, affirmed their commitment to these two primary goals at this point.

GREENE: And Sean, you saw these two men standing with John Kerry - body language? Do you get the sense that these are two men who are really, sincerely ready to work together?

CARBERRY: There are certainly plenty of reports that they have not gotten along well over the years. However, their language and their interplay at this press conference and the one several weeks ago did seem collegial. They seem to be on board. People here, officials, say the two candidates are on board. The real question is, the teams behind them and some of the powerful backers they have, are they all on board - and that's where there's still a potential for spoilers.

GREENE: All right. NPR's Sean Carberry speaking to us from Kabul. Sean, thanks a lot.

CARBERRY: You're welcome.

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