Rabbani sees little progress likely at Bonn conference
Thursday November 22, 2:55 AM AFP
Anti-Taliban Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani said that he though only limited progress could be achieved at multi-party Afghan talks scheduled to be held in Germany next week.
"We hope that this will be the last conference of its sort to be held outside Afghanistan," Rabbani said in an interview published in the Vremya Novostei daily.
The Bonn meeting "is important, but does not touch the most prominent problems," he said. "The most vital problems have to be discussed within Afghanistan, and not outside its border.
The newspaper quoted Rabbani as saying that he viewed the German meeting as "insignificant."
Rabbani further said that he would like to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the near future to discuss the creation of a post-Taliban government in Afghanistan.
His comments came one day after the UN Security Council called the conference "indispensable" and urged all Afghan parties to attend.
Late Wednesday, the German foreign ministry announced that the talks would be held just outside Bonn and not in Berlin, as previously thought.
Afghanistan's Northern Alliance has expressed willingness to share its authority in a post-Taliban coalition government, however, the United States has expressed concern that Rabbani is personally reluctant to take part in a broad-based coalition.
The Northern Alliance gave only qualified approval Monday to a UN blueprint for forming a new broad-based government, saying it agreed in principle with the UN-sponsored plan to build a multi-ethnic administration but held reservations about the fine print.
Rabbani, ousted by the Taliban in 1996 but still UN-recognised president, defended the alliance's moves to consolidate its authority in Kabul and other areas of Afghanistan under its control, saying that otherwise there would be anarchy.
"We continue to be the official government of Afghanistan. And we must carry out our functions until the new administration is formed," he said.
"We can't delay this for a single day because it will lead to anarchy, which is not in the people's interests," Rabbani added.
The alliance's political figurehead said that some individuals who had been in the ranks of the Taliban could play some role at lower levels in the country's administration but not in the future Kabul government.
"Among the Taliban there are some people who we can deal with, not in the government but at other levels. We are talking about a few individuals. But there is no question of the Taliban as a movement (having a role)," he said.
The alliance, dominated by the country's Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara minorities, is suspected by the majority Pashtun, to which the Taliban belong, of trying to exclude them from power.
The United States has called for "moderate" Taliban to be allowed to participate in the new power-sharing administration.
Rabbani meanwhile said that he did not want to see large contingents of foreign troops in Afghanistan, although some military presence was acceptable for strictly limited humanitarian tasks.
"We are not against the military presence of our allies, but only for the provision of humanitarian aid. We don't need foreign military contingents," he said.
Around 100 British commandos flew into Bagram airfield, northeast of Kabul, last Thursday in a deployment expected to pave the way for several thousand more troops.
But Britain placed the plans on hold after resistance by the Northern Alliance to more foreign soldiers in the country, fearing that Western powers were moving to prevent it from asserting control over territory captured from the Taliban.
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