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Archive for Saturday, December 1, 2001

Afghan talks hit critical impasse

December 1, 2001

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— Talks on Afghanistan's political future deadlocked Friday after the northern alliance leader in Kabul insisted an interim administration be elected and objected to plans for international peacekeepers.

The impasse came amid a rift between the alliance's leadership in Afghanistan and its delegation at the U.N.-sponsored conference here outside Bonn.

Former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani complained at a news conference in Kabul that his delegation in Germany was being pressured to name members of interim bodies at the talks and to accept an international security force both of which he opposes.

Rabbani is opposed to a major role in the interim administration for the nation's exiled monarch.

U.S. envoy James F. Dobbins is pushing the northern alliance to allow the decision on who will take part in an interim administration to be made in Germany, as all four factions at the talks agreed on the first day, Tuesday.

"We are pressing a different view," said Dobbins, who is asserting influence from the sidelines of the talks. "It is important that this be overcome and that they go ahead, as this is a tremendous, maybe unique, opportunity for Afghanistan."

Rabbani favors the election, rather than appointment, of an interim council to run Afghanistan until a national assembly is convened in March.

Rabbani also raised objections to any international peacekeeping force, saying he would prefer an all-Afghan force with 1,000 fighters from each faction. Any foreign contribution should be limited to 200, Rabbani said.

In Germany, the alliance delegation reacted by asking for a 10-day delay in the talks to return to Kabul and announce their list from there, delegates from the other groups told The Associated Press.

That proposal was rejected by all other delegations, and U.N. mediators were meeting with the northern alliance to overcome the obstacles.

Besides the alliance, the Bonn conference brings together delegations from the exiled former king, Mohammad Zaher Shah, and two other small exile groups.

Daoud Yakub, an adviser to the ex-king's delegation, said the northern alliance was only trying to "consolidate their gains and be in even a stronger position to dictate their terms. We want to finish."

He said the other delegations were prepared to announce the lists of people they propose for two interim bodies, an executive body with a Cabinet-like function and a quasi-legislative supreme council, on Saturday.

U.N. spokesman Ahmad Fawzi has said the executive body would have 15-25 members and the supreme council up to 200. He said Friday that it was critical that any deal reached in Germany be implemented in Afghanistan.

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