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No Talks Between UN Envoy and Taleban - 2001-11-01

The United Nations special envoy for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, said he cannot give a time frame for when a political solution will be in place for a future Afghan government. He has been in Islamabad for meetings with Pakistani leaders and Afghan exiles. He ruled out talking to the Taleban envoy there, saying they have nothing to add to the discussion.

Mr. Brahimi said he believes there is a new will among the Afghan people to solve their problems and create a stable government. He has said the United Nations and the international community are also committed to help. "Are we going to succeed? We hope so," he said. "We will do our very best. But it depends on the people of Afghanistan. It depends on the commitment of the international community and the countries that are closest to Afghanistan and their neighbors in particular," he said.

The drive has shown few signs of success and every indication of being hampered by old rivalries. Afghan exiles have held several meetings with no solid results. Disagreements between rival factions hoping to rally around the former king have also forced the postponement of another conference that had been expected to take place in Turkey.

Mr. Brahimi urged patience, saying it takes time to bring all the strings together. "We will go as fast as is humanly possible. Again I think the people of Afghanistan have responsibilities," he said. "We will go just as fast as they can themselves. And I'm afraid I can't give you any timeframe for when our campaign will bear fruit."

Meanwhile, the Taleban ambassador in Islamabad - after failing to secure a meeting with the U.N. envoy criticized Mr. Brahimi as biased, saying he is working for America. U.N. aid officials have continued meetings with Taleban officials, but Mr. Brahimi says they have little to add to his discussions.

"At this particular juncture, with the situation as it is we think that unfortunately there isn't much benefit for anybody in talking with the Taleban officials," he said. "On the contrary, talking to them may give the wrong impression to all sides."

When asked whether there could be any role for elements of the Taleban in a future Afghan government, Mr. Brahimi responded bluntly, "I don't know."

The U.N. envoy is traveling to Iran next, where he will continue his meetings aimed at cobbling together a government that will include Afghanistan's many diverse tribes and factions.