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Tuesday, 11 June, 2002, 00:29 GMT 01:29 UK
Loya jirga diary: Deal heralds meeting

It has been one of those days that end rather better than they begin.

I am just back from an extraordinary press conference given by the 87-year-old former King of Afghanistan in the back garden of his villa in Kabul.

Next to him was Hamid Karzai, dapper as ever in his knitted woollen hat, the chairman of the country's interim administration.

What they told us - a couple of hundred sweaty, jostling journalists - was that they have done a deal.

What it means - we think - is that the loya jirga will finally get under way on Tuesday, a day later than scheduled.

I have spent most of the day shuttling backwards and forwards between the BBC office in the city centre, and the Intercontinental Hotel, a 1960s hulk of faded splendour, perched on a hillside overlooking the Afghan capital.

The Intercon is where the loya jirga media centre has been set up, courtesy of a highly efficient German facilities company.

Beneath us, out of bounds, is the huge white tent in which this unique grand council meeting is meant to be taking place.

Don't get the idea that there is anything primitive about that tent.

It is a splendid, high-tech structure, previously used apparently at a beer festival in Munich, but it is probably best that the delegates to the loya jirga do not know that.

It is fully air-conditioned too, and if I had to choose between the dingy Intercontinental and the pristine German tent, I know which I would go for.

Fortunately, I am staying at a comfortable little guest house in town, with a neatly painted sign on the wall outside, saying that it welcomes "dear foreigners and passengers".


to listen to Robin Lustig's reports from Afghanistan for The World Tonight on Radio 4.

Read the other instalments of Robin's Kabul diary below:

Day five: Rebirth of political dialogue
Day four: Out of Kabul to the Salang tunnel
Day three: Red-hot rhetoric
Day two: Slow start for loya Jirga
Day one: Giant tent awaits delegates


Rebuilding

Political uncertainty

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10 Jun 02 | South Asia
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