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    Talk out issues, Obama asks Ghani, Abdullah

    WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): US President Barack Obama on Tuesday phoned the leading presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani, stressing the need for political dialogue -- a message he delivered to Dr Abdullah during a previous call.

    “With both, the President stressed that the United States expects a thorough review of all reasonable allegations of fraud to ensure a credible electoral process,” a statement from the White House said.

    He reiterated all parties should avoid steps that undermine Afghan national unity and should come together to work toward a resolution that represents the will of the Afghan people and produces a government that can bring Afghanistan together.

    Obama noted there was no justification for resorting to violent or extra-constitutional means, which would result in the end of US assistance to Afghanistan. He indicated Secretary of State John Kerry would continue close consultations with the candidates and President Hamid Karzai.

    The State Department said Kerry had been in touch with Karzai over the weekend on the developing political situation in Afghanistan. “I expect that will continue. And we are calling on both campaigns to work towards a resolution which will produce a president who can bring Afghanistan together and govern effectively and avoid steps that undermine Afghan national unity.”

    State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters at her daily news conference: “Clearly our engagement shows our level of commitment to not just the future of Afghanistan, but to a resolution to this issue.”

    About the idea of a parallel government, Psaki said there had been reports on the ground of plans to declare victory, to create a parallel government. Both would be illegal. The US would not provide any support if those types of steps were taken, she warned.

    The White House said serious allegations of fraud had been raised, but they had yet to be adequately investigated. “So we reiterate that the preliminary results are neither final, nor authoritative, and may not even predict the final outcome...,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.

    “There is a process in place for adjudicating the concerns that have been raised about fraud in that election, and we’re encouraging both candidates and their supporters to allow that process to work its way through so that all of these claims or concerns that have been raised about fraud can be examined and adjudicated so that both sides can respect the outcome of this process,” he said.

    Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel appeared before a key congressional committee to brief lawmakers on the current situation in Iraq and Afghanistan. The briefing was held behind closed doors.

    The Pentagon acknowledged the situation in Afghanistan was complex and complicated. “We're certainly monitoring that and watching that and encouraging both candidates to let the process continue. It doesn't do anybody any good to threaten violence. We want to get a complete audit of the votes,” Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said.

    “We're not picking sides here. The only side that we're on is the side of the Afghan people. And I think we just need to keep focused on that. And there's absolutely no change in our commitment to the peaceful, stable future of Afghanistan,” Kirby said.

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