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Negotiations Begin On Afghan Elections

Some candidates are threatening not to accept the results of Saturday's vote 11 October 2004 -- Negotiations are under way in Afghanistan to reach an agreement over the 9 October disputed presidential poll.

The U.S. envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, is helping to persuade Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai's rivals to drop a threat not to recognize the result.

Afghanistan's election commission says it will delay vote-counting while seeking advice on dealing with possible illegal votes. An independent panel has been created to investigate fraud claims.

Mohammad Mohaqeq, the strongest candidate from the Hazara minority, and Mas'uda Jalal, the lone woman candidate, say they will accept the findings of the investigation. Mohammad Yunos Qanuni, the main candidate from the Tajik minority, is reportedly moving closer to that position.

UN spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva says first results could be out this week.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder held talks with Karzai today in Kabul. There was no immediate word on the subject of the talks.

Schroeder's one-day visit is the first by a Western leader to Afghanistan since the historic presidential elections.

Upon his arrival, Schroeder praised the work of a 2,000-strong German contingent serving as peacekeepers within the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.

He said that without the ISAF and German troops, the security situation would not have allowed the election to go forward.