U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Afghanistan's incumbent President Hamid Karzai at the presidential palace in Kabul July 11, 2014. (REUTERS/Jim Bourg)
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Secretary of State John Kerry sought Friday to broker a deal between Afghanistan's rival presidential candidates as a bitter dispute over last month's runoff election risked spiraling out of control.For the United States, the political crisis is threatening to undermine more than a decade of efforts to leave behind a strong Afghanistan capable of containing the Taliban insurgency and preventing extremist groups like al-Qaida from using the territory to endanger the American homeland.The hope, Kerry said, was to create a process that confers legitimacy on whoever emerges as the rightful leader of Afghanistan.Kerry will seek a commitment from both candidates to hold off from rash action while the ballots are examined and political leaders are consulted across Afghanistan's ethnic spectrum.Obama spoke to each candidate this week, warning that any move outside the law to seize power would mean the end of U.S. financial aid to Afghanistan.Before becoming president, Obama differentiated Afghanistan from Iraq, which he declared a "dumb war". The situations in Afghanistan and Iraq are distinct.
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