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High Level Russian Delegation To Arrive In Northern Afghanistan For Talks - 2001-11-16

Russia Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov told the Interfax News Agency that the delegation will meet with what he termed "the lawful government" of Afghanistan. The Interfax report said the delegation will be made up of Russian officials from the foreign, defense and emergency ministries.

Meanwhile, a senior Russian diplomatic source told journalists that the majority Pashtun ethnic group should play a prominent role in a future Afghan government. The Northern Alliance is principally made up of Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara forces while the Taleban draw much of their support from the Pashtun majority.

The unnamed official was quoted as saying that Russia does not want to see the Northern Alliance usurp power. He said Russia wants to see a stable government in Afghanistan, one at peace with its neighbors and in which no one ethnic group will try to dominate.

The official suggested a government that is 30 to 40 percent Pashtun, 25 to 30 percent Tajiks, 15 to 20 percent Uzbek and 5 to 10 percent Hazara.

Ever since the anti Taleban Northern Alliance sent forces into Kabul on Tuesday, there has been growing concern they might take power. The United States and others have called for the formation of a government that represents all ethnic groups in the country.

Russia has said that the Taleban, as a political entity, should play no role in a future Afghan government. The United States has repeatedly said that "moderate Taleban" elements could play a role.