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US Democrats unveil platform ahead of convention

The Democratic Party has unveiled its platform for the presidential election in the US in which Barack Obama is running for a second term. This came just hours before start of the party’s national convention.

President Barack Obama speaks in the White House briefing room in Washington, Monday, Aug. 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

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The non-binding document, which is to be voted on at the convention in Charlotte, North Carolina later on Tuesday, highlights what it sees as Obama's political successes. These include the withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq and the killing of al Qaeda boss Osama bin Laden in May of last year.

It also focuses on key policy issues on which the Democrats differ from their rivals, the Republicans, who are hoping to get Mitt Romney elected to the White House.

The platform expresses support for equal rights for same-sex couples and for gay marriage.

"We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference," the platform states.

The Republicans support the definition of marriage as being exclusively between a man and a woman.

The Democrat platform calls for giving families with annual incomes under $250,000 tax cuts, while calling on top earners and big business to "pay their fair share." The Republicans want to lower tax rates across the board while at the same time broadening the tax base.

The platform hails the healthcare legislation passed during Obama's first term in office, dubbed "Obamacare." Romney and the Republicans have said they would move to repeal the law.

On defense, the document highlights a plan to wind down the mission in Afghanistan within the next two years and Obama's position on Tehran's controversial nuclear program.

Obama, it says, "is committed to using all instruments of national power to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons." It stresses his desire to resolve the dispute through diplomacy but notes the possibility of military action remains on the table.

Opinion polls currently put Obama and Romney neck-and-neck, with around one in 10 voters apparently undecided ahead of the November election.

pfd/msh (Reuters, AFP)