Sunday, December 2, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

NA says yes to UN-backed council

Kabul, December 1
The Northern Alliance today said it was ready to transfer power to a UN-backed transitional council and that Alliance leader Burhanuddin Rabbani would not be the head of that new body.

The Alliance’s Foreign Minister, Abdullah, also said his group was prepared to “be flexible” on the issue of international peacekeepers in Afghanistan but that they would require a UN mandate and that their stay in the country should be limited.

“We are ready to transfer power to a transitional authority and the head of the transitional authority will not be the head of the Islamic State of Afghanistan,” Mr Abdullah said, referring to Mr Rabbani.

The Northern Alliance, which controls the capital Kabul and most of the country after the collapse of the Taliban, is facing strong international pressure to break a deadlock in talks underway near Bonn on Afghanistan’s political future.

Alliance delegates in Germany had been stalling on providing names of people it wants to serve in an interim administration.

On the issue of peacekeepers, Mr Abdullah appeared to show flexibility after Mr Rabbani this week ruled out a large international force. Mr Rabbani said he saw no need for more than about 200 foreign peacekeepers.

But Mr Abdullah said the Alliance was ready to accept international peacekeepers with the numbers and details of the mandate subject to UN approval.

He said he expected all issues to be resolved within a few days.

BONN: Afghanistan’s powerful Northern Alliance were under intense pressure on Saturday to agree to a historic interim power-sharing deal, as inter-Afghan talks looked set to run into extra time.

Diplomatic sources close to the talks, being held in a secluded government residence near Bonn, said the United Nations and foreign powers were determined that the rival factions would not head home without striking a deal.

Ousted Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani said today he had told the UN that he would accept an interim “leadership council” of up to 25 persons, possibly including former king Mohammed Zahir Shah.

Mr Rabbani said he had outlined his plan to UN special representative for Afghanistan Lakhdar Brahimi and told him to table it at the Afghan talks in Bonn. AP, AFPBack


Breakthrough likely today: UN

Bonn, December 1
The United Nations said there was no agreement on an interim Afghan government in sight before tomorrow, as negotiations between rival Afghan groups suffered fresh delays.

“The earliest I will have something to say is tomorrow morning, if we have a deal,” UN spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said today. But he warned, “It could all break down again.”

Mr Fawzi said a working session of the four Afghan groups at the talks scheduled for 3.00 p.m. had been postponed until 8.00 p.m. AFPBack

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