Wednesday, November 28, 2001, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

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Afghan govt: leaders agree on time frame
Bonn conference opens on positive note

Afghan delegations sit around a table
Afghan delegations sit around a table in the "Rotunda" conference hall in the chateau-like German government's former guesthouse on the Petersberg hill above the town of Koenigswinter near Bonn on Tuesday.— Reuters

Bonn, November 27
Talks aimed at forging Afghanistan’s political future had a positive start with Afghan leaders agreeing to a time frame to create a new administration and eventually craft a constitution, a United Nations spokesman said today.

During a closed session that followed Tuesday’s official opening, Mr Ahmad Fawzi, spokesman for the UN’s special representative on Afghanistan, Mr Lakhdar Brahimi, said the Afghan leaders had agreed to the steps for creating a new administration for the nation.

After forming an interim administration and provisional council, both of which would last between three and six months, around 50 Afghan leaders and their advisers agreed to convene a “loya jirga” or grand assembly to create a transitional council.

This would then pave the way for a constitution about two years later, which Mr Fawzi said would set out human rights as well as equal rights, including for women and education for girls.

The constitution, Mr Fawzi said, would also recognize the need to combat terrorism with the UN spokesman stressing that democracy was an important part of the political process that was emerging for post-Taliban Afghanistan.

But Mr Fawzi said there had been no discussions on who might head up moves to forge Afghanistan’s new political culture, but he again acknowledged the possible future role of Afghanistan’s former King, Mohammed Zahir Shah, who has been living in Rome after being deposed 30 years ago.

Mr Fawzi described the first round of talks in Bonn as a success, in particular noting the comments made during the closed session of the conference by Mr Houmayoun Jareer, a member of the Cyprus group, one of the four delegations attending the meeting.

“We are all Afghans, working together as one is the secret of the success of this meeting,” Mr Jareer told the other delegates. His comments followed a very upbeat official opening to the talks with United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Anan and German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer joining representatives of the delegations in underscoring the opportunity offered by the gathering in Bonn.

At the same time, both Mr Fischer and Mr Annan stressed the importance of human rights in overcoming Afghanistan’s problems and including in the new political process the groups, particularly those which had been excluded.

Officially opening the conference, Mr Fischer told the Afghan leaders that the international community was prepared to make a great effort in furthering Afghanistan’s political future.

Mr Fischer said this was an “agreement on binding rules for a peaceful political process and a broad-based representative transitional government.’’ DPA, AFPBack

 

US marines go into combat
15 armoured vehicles destroyed
K.J.M. Varma

Islamabad, November 27
US marines went into combat for the first time near Kandahar, sending helicopter gunships aloft as Navy F-14 Tomcat jets attacked and destroyed a convoy of about 15 armoured vehicles in the remaining militia stronghold.

About 500 US marines took forward positions well inside Taliban-held territories southwest of Kandahar, where Osama bin Laden and Taliban Chief Mullah Mohammad Omar are believed to be hiding.

Northern Alliance forces aided by US bombing re-took most of the prison fortress in Mazar-e-Sharif after a rebellion by pro-Taliban foreign captives, including Pakistanis, Arabs and Chechens, that left hundreds dead, a commander said.

“It’s over,” said the commander, Mohammed Nuri, adding , “there is no more fighting”.

The Alliance continued to look for pockets of resistance inside the prison where the rebellion erupted on Sunday after the foreign captives loyal to Bin Laden revolted.

Five US soldiers were injured when a US bomb went astray killing six Northern Alliance fighters engaged in pitched battle in the fort in Mazar-e-Sharif. The injured US soldiers have been evacuated to Uzbekistan.

US President George W. Bush warned Americans to be prepared for US casualties. He said the US-led war in Afghanistan was “just the beginning” of the fight against terrorism, and he warned Iraq and North Korea there would be consequences for producing weapons of mass destruction.

Five American soldiers suffered serious wounds when a US JDAM smart bomb went stray, exploding near them. They were evacuated to nearby Uzbekistan, Gen Richard Myers, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in Washington. Their identities were not released.

One CIA operative was unaccounted for in the uprising, a US official speaking on condition of anonymity said.

Britain took several thousand troops off 48-hour alert, citing an improving situation on the ground in Afghanistan. PTI, APBack

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