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November 24, 2001
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UN-sponsored Afghan meet postponed by a day

Dharam Shourie at the United Nations

The United Nations-sponsored talks on forming an interim administrative set-up in Afghanistan, scheduled to begin in Bonn on Monday, has been put off by a day to allow time for Afghan representatives to hold consultations before the formal opening of negotiations.

The UN has decided to commence talks a day later on Tuesday, as it will allow the 20-30 representatives of various factions to have informal consultations amongst themselves prior to the formal sessions, Ahmed Fawzi, spokesman for UN's top Afghan envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, told reporters.

The Taleban have not been invited for the meeting, he said.

As arrangements are being finalised for the meeting to be held in Petersberg Castle in the east German city, the UN has played down expectations pointing to the complexity of the exercise.

"We can't be totally confident that we are going to get an agreement. I think it's quite an achievement that we are getting the parties together at all at this stage. There are differences. We are trying to reconcile them," Fazwi said.

Asked if the UN was optimistic about the chances of a lasting government, which did not include the Taleban, Fawzi said while it was unrealistic to expect the militia's representation at this stage, it was possible that moderate elements of the militia could be included in the future dispensation.

He said they would succeed if the meeting came up with a formula for a two-year transitional government, which would include women. It would be implemented in a series of phases, including a provisional council, he added.

PTI

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