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Mixed signals on Afghan force plan

Yunis Qanooni
Yunis Qanooni earlier rejected the idea of an international peacekeeping force  

KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- The Northern Alliance's foreign minister has indicated that they would consider allowing the presence of a multinational peacekeeping force in the country -- something the coalition's interior minister has rejected at a conference in Germany.

"Our position has been that our preference would be an Afghan force composed of all ethnic groups, of course under the U.N. once again," Abdullah Abdullah told CNN.

"But, this is the preference. But, if we have to go for a multinational peace keeping force, we will consider it positively if it is needed, if it is required, in the light of developments, we will consider it positively."

Yunis Qanooni, the Northern Alliance interior minister, had earlier rejected the idea of peacekeepers, arguing that "full security is in place" in Afghanistan.

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"If there is a need for extra security, then of course we can combine forces from different ethnic groups inside Afghanistan," he said at the conference, being held outside Bonn.

Three proposals

The United Nations has three proposals for a security force to ensure peace in Afghanistan once the Taliban are defeated: an Afghan force, a U.N. peacekeeping force and an international security force. Officials have indicated an international force would be the most realistic.

The security issue appears to be the sticking point at the talks. Factions loyal to former king Mohammed Zahir feel an international force is needed in Kabul to make it neutral territory before formation of a new government can begin.

However, the two largest delegations -- the Northern Alliance and the king's supporters -- did agree on a transitional council that would set up an interim government of 120 to 200 members.

Two commissions have been set up within the conference to draw up lists of names of who should be on the council, and they hope to have those lists complete by end of the conference. The council would then pick Afghanistan's interim government.

The U.N.-sponsored summit is taking place at a hotel near Bonn, and U.N. officials had said they were upbeat about the progress so far.

One of the delegates, Ahwad Wali Massoud, said he was hopeful about the outcome of the talks.

"We are hoping that we can get everything done, hopefully (at) this meeting," said Massoud, the brother of assassinated Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud. "If not, at least we should get the main points. As a principle, we should agree on the major things."

Also present at the talks are the "Peshawar Group," representing the millions of Afghan refugees in Pakistan, and the "Cyprus Group," representing an Iranian-backed group of Afghan exiles.

A U.N. spokesman said he expected the talks to wind up by Sunday.


• United Nations

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