Berlin — U.N.-sponsored talks on the formation of a post-Taliban government in Afghanistan will start next week in Bonn, the German Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.
Representatives from four different groups of Afghans will attend, and hopefully come to agreement on how to choose a provisional administration for the country, said Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations' top envoy for Afghanistan.
Though the talks will be hosted in Germany, the government said it is not expecting to take an active part.
"The conference is planned at the moment in such a way that it will be a purely internal Afghan meeting under the leadership of and hosted by the United Nations here in Germany," ministry spokeswoman Sabine Sparwasser said.
Bonn was the capital of West Germany before it reverted back to Berlin after the reunification of the country in 1990. Berlin was also considered for the conference.
The conference facility is a villa on a mountaintop on the edge of the city.
Brahimi said Tuesday he hoped for fewer than 30 Afghan leaders to participate and for a quick decision. Still, Sparwasser said she was expecting "maybe in the order of 50 to 70" participants next week.
"We're not the organizers, we're not the moderators, we are offering the setting," Sparwasser said of the talks, which are expected to start Monday. Asked whether Germany is prepared to play a more extensive part, she said that "the question doesn't arise at the moment."
Sparwasser stressed that the decision to hold the talks in Germany came from the United Nations and the Afghan groups, although she noted that Germany has long had close ties with Afghanistan. It is a major aid donor and many Afghan expatriates live there.
"Germany has for many years worked very intensively inside the United Nations for a political solution for Afghanistan," she said.
There are no plans at present for Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder or Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer to address the meeting.
Schroeder's spokesman, Uwe-Karsten Heye, said the Germans "hope and wish for a result that stabilizes the prospects inside Afghanistan through a representative government."