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Thursday, 29 November, 2001, 20:50 GMT
Afghan factions edge closer to deal
Mostapha Zaher, grandson of former Afghan King Zahir Shah
All parties want their voices heard at the conference
The two main factions at talks in Bonn on the future of Afghanistan have agreed on the basic shape of an interim council to run the country.

But a United Nations spokesman, Ahmad Fawzi, gave a cautious assessment, saying they had yet to see the emergence of one coherent set of ideas that could constitute an agreement.


His Majesty is the spiritual leader of the Afghan people and at the core of national unity

Royal delegate Abdul Sattar Sirat
The proposed council, made up of at least 40 members, would run Afghanistan until a provisional government can be established.

The delegation representing the former king, Zahir Shah, said it wanted him to be head of state. But the Northern Alliance says that although he is an important figure, his role should be decided by the Loya Jirga - or traditional Afghan assembly - it suggested should be held next year.

The king's delegation also disagrees with a plan for dividing up the political transition to democracy into different phases.

It all puts a question mark over whether the composition of an interim administration can be finalised in Germany, says the BBC's Mike Wooldridge in Bonn.

In other developments:

  • US forces in Afghanistan have started targeting Taleban and al-Qaeda leaders, in a bid to cut them off from their troops
  • In the Afghan city of Kandahar the Taleban are reported to have hanged a man accused of spying for the US after he was found with a satellite phone
  • Red Cross officials remove the bodies of Taleban prisoners killed during a three-day revolt at Qala-e-Jhangi fort
  • The United States confirms that CIA agent Johnny Spann was killed in the uprising - the first known US fatality of the war
  • Bundles of US humanitarian relief supplies air-dropped over Afghanistan hit a house, killing a woman and child, the Pentagon says

Breakthrough

It seems there was a breakthrough on the thorny issue of a multinational security force for Afghanistan.

A senior official in the Northern Alliance - which previously rejected such a force - said such a deployment would not be opposed once an interim government was in place.

Click here for a who's who of the Afghan power brokers.

But it remains unclear how far the various delegations at the UN-sponsored conference are agreed on key points, like who should be represented on the interim body, what its responsibilities should be and who will lead it.

There is some confusion as to whether the council will be based on the population of the country's 28 provinces, or along ethnic lines.

It has been suggested by a Northern Alliance spokesman that the council's seats would be divided equally between the alliance - dominated by ethnic Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras - and supporters of Zahir Shah.

Controlling Kabul

Another tough issue is who should control the capital, Kabul.

Yunus Qanooni
Yunus Qanooni: Modified the alliance's stance on a security force

The city is currently under the control of Jamiat-e-Islami - a faction of the Northern Alliance - but other factions would prefer a multinational force.

US President George W Bush and the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, meanwhile, have stressed the need to improve security in Afghanistan to facilitate aid distribution.

Speaking in Washington where the two men held talks, Mr Annan said that up to 7.5 million Afghans needed help.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Philippa Thomas
"No formal deal has been reached"
Fatima Gailani, adviser to the Pashawar delegation
"We had even more progress"
See also:

28 Nov 01 | South Asia
US admits first combat death
26 Nov 01 | South Asia
Analysis: Tribal voices 'left unheard'
25 Nov 01 | South Asia
Rabbani 'still Afghan president'
22 Nov 01 | South Asia
Afghan women to attend talks
29 Nov 01 | South Asia
Q&A: Optimistic Afghan talks
29 Nov 01 | South Asia
Pressure on last Taleban stronghold
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