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UN Envoy Urges Afghans To Take Advantage of 'Golden Opportunity' - 2001-12-11


Following a day of talks in Kabul, Special U.N. Envoy to Afghanistan Lakhdar Brahimi says the new authorities in Afghanistan have no objections to a U.N.-mandated security force being deployed in Kabul. But, there is still no agreement on when or if such a force will be deployed.

Mr. Brahimi said he found no opposition to the presence of international peacekeepers from any of the officials he met.

A U.N.-mandated security force is supposed to be deployed in Kabul under a historic power-sharing agreement Mr. Brahimi negotiated last week in Bonn.

But doubts about deploying peacekeepers began as soon as the agreement was signed. The Northern Alliance, which controls most of Afghanistan, said it would not withdraw all its troops from Kabul as the Bonn agreement requires.

Mr. Brahimi met separately with the future defense minister, General Mohammad Qaseem Fahim, and incoming Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah.

The U.N. envoy said he is not in a position to discuss numbers or operational issues, but added that the international force, if it comes, will come as a friend, not as an enemy. "A force that would come here," said Mr. Brahimi, "is not coming to fight anybody or to oppose anybody, but is coming here to help increase stability and security for the people of Afghanistan."

Mr. Brahimi said he is confident the Bonn agreement will implemented fully, including deployment of the force as mandated by the United Nations.

He said the people of Afghanistan should not let this opportunity for peace slip away. "They have a golden opportunity," he added, "perhaps never to come again, of availing themselves of this goodwill and political will, to help them and support the process that will bring peace, security to them, and will provide resources for reconstruction."

Mr. Brahimi flies Wednesday to Islamabad for talks with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf before returning to New York. He will return to Afghanistan later this month to attend the transfer of authority to the new interim government on December 22.

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