Kerry in Kabul to try to break deadlock over Afghan presidency

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By Lesley Wroughton KABUL (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Afghanistan on Thursday for his second visit in under a month to push a deal between the country's two presidential candidates on how to share power after an audit of a disputed election is complete. Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah shook hands on an agreement to resolve the election row after Kerry's visit in July, but they remain far apart on critical components of their pact to form a united government. Afghanistan's Western backers hope the audit will produce a legitimate president before a NATO summit in early September, and Kerry will meet both candidates as well as President Hamid Karzai to drive forward the deal. While Karzai has said the next president will be inaugurated on Aug. 25, most officials involved in the process say the deadline is optimistic and it could take until the end of the month for a winner to emerge at the earliest.*** "We are hopeful the secretary can obtain a commitment by both candidates to a timeline for completing the audit and agreeing on the details of a national unity government," said a senior State Department official who briefed reporters en route to Kabul.