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Rabbani Welcomes Taleban Members to New Government

Ousted Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani says individual members of the Taleban could and should join a future government in Afghanistan. Speaking at a news conference Sunday in Kabul, Mr. Rabbani says while he welcomes individual Taleban leaders joining the conference, the Taleban itself will not be invited.

His comments came less than 24 hours after former Taleban deputy interior minister Mullah Khaksar announced he was throwing his support to the northern alliance.

Mr. Rabbani also says foreign allies of the Taleban will not be killed by the northern alliance. He says foreigners who lay down their weapons should not fear severe retribution, saying they could be turned over to UN authorities.

Addressing the issue of whether the northern alliance would eventually step aside and except a broad-based government in Afghanistan, Mr. Rabbani pledged that it would.

Mr. Rabbani says the meetings in Bonn should result in the convening of an emergency 15-seat council. The council he says will have the ability of organizing a loya jirga or grand council of Afghan leaders who will in turn be responsible for creating a provisional administration to govern Afghanistan.

Mr. Rabbani's government was ousted from power after the Taleban seized most of Afghanistan 5 years ago. The northern alliance will be sending the largest Afghan delegation to the Bonn talks. Northern alliance officials confirmed Sunday that their delegation will be headed by Interior Minister Yunus Quanuni, and not by Mr. Rabbani.

Also at the talks, will be representatives of exiled king Zahir Shah and other prominent Afghan exiles.