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Afghan Loya Jirga Reconvening for Talks on Constitution

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai says negotiators at the constitutional assembly establishing the country's next system of government are close to a deal. Delegates were expected to reconvene Saturday.

Disagreement over the new Afghan constitution forced the assembly, or Loya Jirga, to adjourn Thursday. There were heated arguments over whether to set up a presidential or a parliamentary system of government.

While the nation awaits the outcome, Afghan, United Nations and U.S. mediators have been working furiously among the delegates to seek a solution.

But President Karzai told reporters Saturday that most issues have now been settled. Although the assembly has run almost two weeks longer than expected, he says the constitution should not be rushed through. "It is important to have a constitution that comes with near consensus, if not total consensus," he said.

Mr. Karzai himself is not a delegate to the Loya Jirga, but he has been lobbying for a presidential government.