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International Community Hails Afghan Elections

19 September 2005 -- The international community has praised yesterday's parliamentary elections in Afghanistan.

Emma Bonino, the European Union's chief election observer for the polling, said the vote was generally well administered and peaceful.

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry says it is happy the vote passed without serious violence.

France hailed the elections, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Denis Simonneau saying the polls represent "real progress for democracy."

Earlier, the elections were praised by U.S. President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

But Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov today said the vote won't help reduce the flow of Afghan drugs heading to Russia and beyond.

Just over 50 percent of registered voters cast ballots in Sunday's vote. They were the first parliamentary elections in Afghanistan in 36 years.

Preliminary results are expected in early October.