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Bonn Meeting Will Discuss Post-Taleban Afghan Government - 2001-11-24


Leaders of rival Afghan factions are expected to meet Tuesday in Germany to discuss the formation of a post-Taleban broad-based administration in Afghanistan. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw met with Pakistani's military leader, General Pervez Musharraf, in Islamabad Friday to discuss the U.N.-sponsored meeting.

Britain's foreign secretary said after his meeting with Mr. Musharraf that he hopes next week's meeting will lead to the formation of a broad-based government for Afghanistan.

Secretary Straw says he is encouraged that the Northern Alliance, which now controls most of Afghanistan, is sending a senior level delegation to the meeting in Germany. The military gains of the alliance, a fighting force of ethnic Tajiks, Uzbeks and other minorities, have raised concerns the group could attempt to hang on to power in Afghanistan.

"We hope, given what they have already said, and expect the Northern Alliance to continue to show a high degree of responsibility for securing a peaceful future in Afghanistan. And that can only come about if there is give and take, and if there is acceptance that no one party, or that no one ethnic group, should have complete control of any government or any administration [in Kabul]," Mr. Straw said.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar told the same news conference that his country hopes U.N. Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi will try to make sure that all ethnic groups have proper representation in any future Afghan government.

"We hope and pray that the choice that he makes will actually lead to the formation of a broad-based transitional administration fully representative of the Afghans," he said. "This is very important for the sake of peace and stability in Afghanistan."

Pakistan says Afghanistan's largest ethnic community of Pashtuns, who are mostly Sunni Muslims, should have a dominant role in the running of the country.

After the removal of the Taleban from power, the United Nations has put forward a two-year plan for setting up a government in Kabul that would be approved by a traditional grand assembly and would represent Afghanistan's many rival ethnic groups. U.N. and Western leaders want any new government to be broad-based, allow humanitarian aid to be distributed, respect women's rights, fight drug trafficking and live in peace with neighboring countries.

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