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Timing and venue for meeting on Afghanistan future still not set, Brahimi says

Timing and venue for meeting on Afghanistan future still not set, Brahimi says

Lakhdar Brahimi
Lakhdar Brahimi, the chief United Nations envoy for Afghanistan, said today that preparations for a meeting on the country's future were advancing but the timing and venue remained under discussion.

Speaking to reporters following a meeting of representatives from countries of the so-called "Group of 21," Mr. Brahimi, who is Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative for Afghanistan, said all members had expressed strong support for the Secretary-General's proposal to convene a meeting "as soon as possible."

The G-21 is comprised of a broad group of interested nations that have been directly or indirectly affected by the Afghan crisis and could help contribute to its resolution.

Asked for details on the preparations, Mr. Brahimi emphasized that discussions were being held with the Afghans "to see where it is more convenient for them to hold this meeting." He noted that the venue was "not going to be a problem" since several countries had offered to play host, including the United Arab Emirates, Kazakhstan, Germany and Austria.

The meeting will bring together members of the Northern Alliance as well as several initiatives on Afghanistan, such as the Rome process, the Cyprus process and the Peshawar Convention, according to Mr. Brahimi. On the timing, the envoy noted that his deputy, Francesc Vendrell, was scheduled to hold talks in Kabul on Saturday. "We are waiting for an answer from the representatives of the Northern Alliance," Mr. Brahimi added.

Concerning the importance of proceeding quickly, he said, "we are very much aware of the necessity of speed - the Secretary-General is more aware than anybody of that - but we will go only as fast as the Afghans are willing to go; unless we have answers and expression of readiness to meet from the Afghans, obviously we cannot meet."

He emphasized that the aim was to meet "as fast as possible, but not faster than possible."