US: Afghan vote step forward on 'democratic path'

US: Afghan vote step forward on 'democratic path'

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (AP) — The White House says Afghanistan's second round of presidential voting marks a major step forward on the country's "democratic path."

In a written statement, the White House praises "the courage and resolve" of the Afghan people in making their voices heard in choosing a new leader.

Official preliminary results are expected to be announced July 2.

The candidates are a former foreign minister, Abdullah Abdullah, and an ex-World Bank official and former finance minister, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai (ahsh-RAHF' gah-NEE' ah-mahd-ZEYE').

Each has promised to sign a security pact with the United States that outgoing President Hamid Karzai has balked at.

It would allow nearly 10,000 American troops to remain in Afghanistan for two more years to conduct counterterrorism operations and continue training and advising the Afghan army and police.