In Iran, Brahimi says he hopes to meet former Afghan King Zahir Shah

In Iran, Brahimi says he hopes to meet former Afghan King Zahir Shah

Lakhdar Brahimi
Continuing his intensive diplomatic activity in Iran, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, today indicated his intention to meet with former Afghan King Zahir Shah before returning to New York.

"I will be stopping on my way in Rome to see, I hope, the former king and the people who have been working with him in this so-called Rome process," Mr. Brahimi told a press conference in Tehran.

The envoy also expressed concern about the impact of the military campaign on innocent Afghans, noting that the bombing "is affecting a number of civilians… is hitting a number of Afghan targets, whereas there is absolutely nobody in the whole world, including the Americans and the other members of the coalition, who believe that the Afghans themselves have been guilty of anything."

Expressing regret over the additional sufferings being inflicted on Afghan civilians, Mr. Brahimi reiterated the Secretary-General's call for an end to the bombing campaign "as soon as possible."

The envoy also confirmed that he was drafting a text offering suggestions on how to advance a broad-based Afghan Government. "On the basis of a paper which we are preparing, we hope to bring together these Afghans and move ahead, by preparing this meeting of Afghans that hopefully are going to start a process - the process - of reaching a broad-based Government," he said.

The Special Representative stressed the need for post-conflict reconstruction of Afghanistan, saying that the international community for the first time had understood the importance of "a determined, serious, lasting effort to help the people of Afghanistan reconstruct themselves."

"We have been given very strong assurances that substantial resources will be made available for this effort," he said, adding that the UN was already trying to prepare the ground for reconstruction programmes.

The press conference followed a meeting between Mr. Brahimi and Iranian President Mohammed Khatami. Meeting later with representatives of UN humanitarian agencies based in Tehran, Mr. Brahimi reaffirmed that the relief effort was currently his foremost concern.