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Afghanistan: Brahimi returns to New York to meet Annan, continue talks

Afghanistan: Brahimi returns to New York to meet Annan, continue talks

Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, returned to New York today for high-level meetings after concluding a two-week intensive diplomatic mission to Pakistan, Iran, Italy and France.

In addition to briefing the Secretary-General on Friday, in the days ahead Mr. Brahimi will attend meetings of the Security Council and the "Six-plus-Two" group, which comprises Afghanistan's six neighbours - China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan - as well as the United States and the Russian Federation.

Mr. Brahimi arrived in New York today from Paris, where he had a working lunch with President Jacques Chirac on Thursday. In a subsequent press conference, the envoy said a solution to the Afghan crisis would not be simple. "There must be no illusion," said Mr. Brahimi. "It will not be easy - it will be very difficult and it will need a great deal of patience."

Concerning the situation in the country, he said, "When we talk of all factions including the Taliban and their adversaries, we are talking of 50,000 armed men holding hostage a country of 25 million."

Meanwhile in the region, Mr. Brahimi's Deputy, Francesc Vendrell is winding up a visit to Dushanbe, Tajikistan, where he was pursuing contacts with Afghan parties and individuals, according to a UN spokesman. "Among the Afghan leaders he had hoped to meet was Afghan President Berhanuddin Rabbani," spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters in New York.