" --IANS/EFE"
Washington, July 26 (IANS/EFE) US President Barack Obama has spoken with the men vying to become Afghanistan's next head of state, encouraging them to follow through with a plan to form a national unity government regardless of the outcome of the audit of ballots from the June 14 presidential runoff, the White House said.

The president commended Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani for putting the interests of Afghanistan first and committing to working together as partners in governance, the administration said in a statement Friday.

Both candidates have pledged to accept the results of the ongoing recount, which Abdullah demanded after rejecting a preliminary tally that showed Ghani winning the runoff.

Obama encouraged both candidates to publicly endorse their previously agreed political framework and continue their dialogue on the details of its implementation to ensure the Afghan people have full confidence in the ongoing electoral process and outcome, the White House said.

Obama also reiterated that there is no justification for rhetoric that threatens extra-constitutional measures, according to the statement.

Claiming fraud in the tabulation of votes from the second round, Abdullah earlier suggested he would form a parallel government if Ghani was proclaimed president.

Secretary of State John Kerry would remain in close consultation with Ghani, Abdullah and outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the White House said.

Both Abdullah and Ghani have signaled their intention to sign a bilateral security accord that would allow some 9,800 US troops to remain in Afghanistan following the conclusion of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force's mission at the end of this year.

--IANS/EFE

ab/vm


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