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Kerry in Kabul on key mission to calm election turmoil

Published on Jul 11, 2014 2:40 PM

KABUL (AFP) - US Secretary of State John Kerry began a difficult mission to mediate an end to the political crisis in Afghanistan on Friday, warning a bitter dispute over presidential polls threatened the country's future.

"Obviously we are at a very critical moment for Afghanistan," Kerry said as he met the head of the UN assistance mission Jan Kubis in the heavily fortified US embassy in Kabul. "The election legitimacy hangs in the balance. The future potential of the transition hangs in the balance, so we have a lot of work to do," he added.

Kerry flew in on a hastily arranged mission, landing in the Afghan capital in the dead of night. Later on Friday, he will meet poll rivals Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, who are locked in a bitter row over who won last month's run-off election to choose a successor to President Hamid Karzai.

The stakes could not be higher, as the next president will have to steer the war-torn country as international troops withdraw, leaving Afghan forces to fight a bloody, stubbornly resilient Taleban insurgency.

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