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Saturday, 24 November, 2001, 08:06 GMT
Rabbani 'to accept Bonn decision'
Burhanuddin Rabbani
Rabbani has returned to Kabul after five years in exile
The former President of Afghanistan and leader of the Northern Alliance, Burhanuddin Rabbani, has claimed he has no personal ambitions and will step down if next week's meeting in Bonn decides to name a new head of government.


We want peace and security and a government of national security in the country so that people do not face hardships and problems

Burhanuddin Rabbani
The United Nations has organised the Bonn summit for the representatives of Afghanistan's major ethnic and political groups to discuss the country's future.

In an interview with the British Daily Telegraph newspaper, Mr Rabbani said the country needed peace and security and a government of national unity.

He said the UN should impose sanctions on any country which tried to meddle in Afghanistan's internal affairs.

Mr Rabbani is still recognised as the head of the Afghan state by the UN, although his 1992-1996 government was marked by violent infighting among the groups that now make up the alliance.

"As far as my future is concerned, the people will determine the role of every concerned personality. I will accept the decision of the (Bonn) meeting. I have no personal ambitions," Mr Rabbani told the paper.

Dismissive

However earlier this week Mr Rabbani dismissed the Bonn meeting as "insignificant" and said he expected it to make only limited progress.

UN peacekeepers
Rabbani warned against outside interference
The UN Security Council has called the conference "indispensable".

A senior alliance leader quoted by the Telegraph said: "Rabbani has the clandestine blessings of Russia and maybe even Iran, that if everything falls apart at Bonn, then he will remain the de facto president."

But he added: "if Bonn succeeds I am certain he will hand over the presidency, because he knows he cannot defy the will of the people, the UN and the whole international community".

Afghan-led

Mr Rabbani stressed that the UN must guarantee a broad-based government can be formed without "outside interference".

He added that he hoped the Bonn meeting will be the last such forum outside Afghanistan.

But Mr Rabbani said he did want to turn over a new leaf with Pakistan, which was the last country to break ties with the Taleban and is very suspicious of the Northern Alliance.

"My message to (Pakistani) President Pervez Musharraf is that we should forget the bitter memories of the past and start a new friendship, based on mutual respect, non-interference and territorial independence," he said.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Burhanuddin Rabbani, former Afghan President
"This conference will represent a good first step"
The BBC's Pam O'Toole
"Peace in Afghanistan could bring substantial benefits"
See also:

23 Nov 01 | South Asia
Afghan talks delayed
22 Nov 01 | Middle East
Iran seeks curb on allied troops
22 Nov 01 | South Asia
Pakistan severs Taleban ties
20 Nov 01 | South Asia
Q&A: What will Afghan talks produce?
21 Nov 01 | South Asia
US hopeful before Afghan talks
22 Nov 01 | South Asia
Afghan women to attend talks
21 Nov 01 | South Asia
Afghan talks switch to Bonn
14 Nov 01 | South Asia
Rabbani's Afghan comeback
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