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Christiane Amanpour: Afghanistan's moment for peace

Christiane Amanpour
Christiane Amanpour  

KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Afghan factional leaders and U.N. representatives began their summit near Bonn, Germany, to discuss Afghanistan's future and to take the first steps toward building a post-Taliban government.

Christiane Amanpour, CNN's chief international correspondent, has been following this story, and the hopes of the summit held by those in Kabul. She filed this report.

AMANPOUR: People in Kabul are very aware that now the international community is fully engaged in the whole issue of developing a political settlement for Afghanistan.

And they are hoping beyond hope that the delegates who are now sitting around the table in Bonn will put the interests of Afghan people at the center of their discussions, rather than what the past has shown them -- and that is, their own warlord and factional fighting interests.

What the people here are very worried about is that the people in Bonn must get together and make a broad-based alliance with all the ethnic parties included in order to have peace, stability, security. And above all, they want jobs and they want some kind of calm to return to their country.

The women of Afghanistan are also exceptionally concerned about the idea of their rights being represented. Today, a group of professional women signed up to form a new party.

They're quite concerned that even though there is a woman delegate in the Bonn talks, that the actual women who've been living inside of Afghanistan have not been represented. The delegate is one of those who've been living in exile for most of the past 20 years, they say.

Now, the United States is holding that promise of aid for Afghanistan, if there is a broad-based government that comes out of these talks in Bonn. The talks will take quite a while, we understand. And then they will be further finalized back here in Afghanistan.

We understand, according to diplomats there, that all the factions say they are prepared to deal seriously. And they do know, they say, that this is a unique moment for them to actually get a political future for peace for Afghanistan, with the help of the international community, as well.

CNN: We haven't had the chance over the last couple of days just to talk to you about what you've seen in Kabul -- how people are living, how their lives have changed.

Can you briefly bring us up to date on what daily life looks like in Kabul these days?

AMANPOUR: We've been saying, really, since the return of Kabul to the Northern Alliance, that in a way, everything changed overnight. And in a way, nothing really changed. It was a remarkable change, because it was almost seamless.

But what was obvious, and what continues to be obvious, is that more and more people here talk about being free, having a future, having a chance. They felt that they really have not had this opportunity for the last 20 or more years.

They're remembering very fondly the '60s, during which the Mohammad Zahir Shah was ruling here. It was the last period of peace they had. So people's hopes are getting increasingly higher.

On the other hand, the humanitarian situation is still quite desperate. This is a very poor country. It needs a lot of reconstruction and a lot of help to rebuild just the basic infrastructure, which simply is hanging by a thread, and hanging by the goodwill of the international community, the U.N. and the non-governmental aid organizations that help this country.

So, things are changing quite significantly, but still there's a long way to go, and people are definitely hoping that this is their moment in Afghanistan.


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