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December 11, 2001
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US dumps Pakistani proposal of all-Muslim force in Afghanistan

T V Parasuram in Washington

The United States has abandoned the Pakistani proposal for an all-Muslim force to maintain peace in Afghanistan, even as Britain consented to lead the multinational team that does not include troops from any neighbouring country.

The peacekeeping force comprises soldiers from Germany, France, Canada, Italy, Turkey, Bangladesh, Jordan and other countries, media reports said.

The US will not participate, but will help the force. It has also ruled out soldiers from any neighbouring country, though Pakistan was eager to participate, American officials said.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell said in Berlin, where he held discussions with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, that the new peacekeeping mission would be "completely different" from the US military campaign in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has pressed the Security Council to have the force in place in Kabul by December 22, the date on which the interim government is scheduled to assume power.

The pact among the Afghan parties, which met in Bonn, Germany, calls for the withdrawal of Afghan fighters from Kabul and other major cities where the peacekeepers deploy forces.

"This force will assist in the maintenance of security for Kabul and its surrounding areas. Such a force could, as appropriate, be progressively expanded to other urban centres and other areas," he agreement said.

Sharif Galib, a counsellor at the Afghan mission to the United Nations, said that the Northern Alliance has made a solemn commitment to withdraw its police units and security units from Kabul upon an actual deployment of an international force.

The US has said that none of Afghanistan's neighbours will be in the force, as Pakistan created Taliban while India, Iran and Russia have always recognised -- as has the United Nations -- the Northern Alliance.

PTI

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