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Thursday, 18 October, 2001, 03:23 GMT 04:23 UK
UN wary of Powell's peacekeeping plans
Afghan refugees
Attention is turning to who replaces the Taleban
US Secretary of State Colin Powell has said leaders representing "all aspects" of Afghan society should take over the country once the Taleban regime falls.

He said that when the US bombing led to the Taleban's overthrow, a "political vacuum" would need to be filled, probably by peacekeepers.

I think there probably will be a role for peacekeepers of some kind and that's part of our discussions

Colin Powell
Other US officials are reported to have been sounding out the idea of a United Nations role in Afghanistan, similar to the UN presence that oversaw Cambodia's elections in 1993.

But UN officials are cautious about signing up the American proposals.

Lakhdar Brahimi, in charge of UN operations in Afghanistan, said: "I very firmly say that the United Nations - and this is a consequence of a discussion with (secretary-general Kofi Annan) this morning - is definitely... not seeking a transitional administration or peacekeeping or anything like that".

Colin Powell
Powell says the Afghan king may be a rallying point

Mr Powell was speaking to reporters while travelling to Shanghai for the Apec regional summit.

Talking about the chances of a collapse in support for the ruling Taleban, he said: "We may see a political vacuum immediately, or sort of a deteriorating situation that leads to a political vacuum.

"I think what we're going to need... is some sort of broad-based assemblage of individuals, leaders, representing all aspects of Afghan society who'll come together with a common purpose, perhaps using the position of the king as a rallying point.

"I think there probably will be a role for peacekeepers of some kind and that's part of our discussions."

The US has been persuaded by Pakistan that any future Afghan government should have broad support, including moderate members of the Taleban.

Afghanistan's former king Mohammed Zahir Shah, 87, is seen as one possible rallying point for a broad alliance.

See also:

17 Oct 01 | South Asia
Powell gets Indian backing
15 Oct 01 | South Asia
What next for Afghanistan?
11 Oct 01 | South Asia
Mapping Afghanistan's political future
16 Oct 01 | UK Politics
'A decade to rebuild Afghanistan'
09 Oct 01 | South Asia
Fears of Afghan food crisis
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