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Afghan Talks Hailed as 'Remarkable Achievement' - 2001-12-04

Officials from the United States and Pakistan are praising the United Nations for progress made at talks to establish a transitional government in Afghanistan. Following a week of intense discussions in Germany, rival Afghan factions accepted a broad outline of how the war-ravaged country is to be ruled for the next six months.

A spokesman for the U.S. led coalition, Kenton Keith, told reporters in Pakistan that the breakthrough in the talks is a remarkable achievement. "In reaching this agreement [the Afghan parties] are trying, for the first time in decades, to give their country a government which represents the whole country and which can bring much needed peace, stability and reconstruction to Afghanistan," Mr. Keith said.

According to the U.N. sponsored plan, an interim government for six months is to be put in place in Kabul as soon as possible. A Loya Jirga or traditional assembly will then be held to elect a transitional ruling body for 18 months until a constitution is drawn up and a permanent Afghan government elected. But the delegates still have to agree on who will run the country and diplomats say the process of naming ministerial posts could take a few days.

Pakistan has also congratulated the Untied Nations for the breakthrough in the Afghan talks. A foreign ministry spokesman, Aziz Khan, told reporters that Pakistan hopes the rival Afghan factions will reach agreement soon on the composition of the interim Administration.

"Mutual accommodation among Afghan leaders is necessary for peace and stability and for return of normalcy after two decades of conflict and strife. Pakistan too has borne heavy economic and social costs as a result of the conflict in Afghanistan over the past two decades. The provision of asylum to over three million refugees, has resulted in consequential environmental damage, proliferation of weapons, narcotics trafficking, smuggling and terrorist crimes," he said.

The Pakistani spokesman reiterated his country's demand for the deployment of multinational forces in Kabul and demilitarization of the Afghan capital. He said such a move will ensure the safety and the success of the new political set up in Afghanistan.

The framework agreed to at the talks near Bonn would allow the deployment of an international security force if the parties agree.