KABUL (PAN): Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Friday welcomed the successful holding of presidential and provincial elections in Afghanistan and congratulated Karzai for leading the vote count, the President's Office said.

A statement emailed to Pajhwok Afghan News said Ahmadinejad phoned President Hamid Karzai late Thursday evening and praised the successful holding of the landmark elections.

The statement added Nejad wished good future and development for the war devastated country.

The Iranian president call comes as European election observers have declared 1.5 million votes as 'suspicious', saying the votes should be investigated. The pool of questionable votes is sufficient to push Karzai below 50 percent and force a runoff with Abdullah, who is second with 27.8 percent of the vote. 

Karzai on Thursday defended the election against claims of widespread fraud, but stopped short of declaring victory despite a substantial lead in the preliminary count.

The preliminary final results announced Wednesday by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) showed the incumbent has won 54.6 percent of the votes.


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