The leaders of France and Germany Friday called on all the factions in Afghanistan to cooperate in forming a new government to replace the Taleban. The call came at the close of a Franco-German summit in the French city of Nantes and three days before a meeting of Afghan leaders in Germany.
Representatives of Afghan factions meet in Bonn, Germany for talks aimed at establishing a transitional government in Afghanistan. That meeting was very much on the minds of French and German leaders at the summit in Loire Valley city of Nantes.
A French presidential spokeswoman said discussions between the participants - French President Jacques Chirac, Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder - stressed the need for Afghan leaders to commit themselves to building a better future for their country.
A joint declaration adopted at the close of a summit said France and Germany looked forward to the formation "of a transitional administration in Afghanistan" and the establishment of a legitimate and multiethnic government committed to restoring human rights.
The declaration said France and Germany are ready to help Afghans "build the Afghanistan of tomorrow."
Friday's summit also focused on other issues, including the Israeli - Palestinian conflict. President Chirac and Prime Minister Schroeder agreed Israelis and Palestinians should take more steps toward peace.
Also discussed were ways European Union countries can jointly fight terrorism, such as by issuing European-wide arrest warrants.
The broad range of the talks illustrate the growing role EU countries are taking in international affairs. French, German and British leaders have been shuttling to the Middle East, Asia and Washington in recent weeks in an effort to defuse the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as to consolidate support for the war against terrorism.
Behind the scenes, however, Germany's emerging prominence in world affairs has rankled its French neighbor and historic rival. Berlin has captured the spotlight most recently, by making strong military commitments to the war against terrorism - and now, by hosting the upcoming conference on Afghanistan.