Logistical constraints will push a planned meeting of Afghan factions in Bonn back from Monday to Tuesday, a United Nations spokesman announced today.
"Getting people from all over the world to Bonn has its difficulties of course, and therefore we want to allow enough time for people to arrive," said Ahmad Fawzi, the spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi.
The one-day delay would also allow for consultations in advance of the formal session "so that we have time on the UN side to confer with the delegations, and for the delegations to confer amongst themselves before the official opening of the conference on Tuesday," Mr. Fawzi told reporters at a press briefing in New York.
The bulk of the UN delegation would arrive on Saturday, with Afghan delegations arriving in the days to follow, he noted. The meeting aimed to bring together parties from the Northern Alliance, the Rome Process, the Cyprus Process and the Peshawar Convention to talk about forming a broad-based multi-ethnic government.
"The measure of the success of this meeting will be if we can come up with a formula for a transitional administration for Afghanistan - that is what we are hoping they will agree to," said Mr. Fawzi.
Such a formula – involving all groups in Afghanistan, including women – would then be taken to Kabul for the beginning of a phased implementation. “This is the first step along a long road to establishing good governance in Afghanistan,” he said.
Mr. Fawzi also stressed that the conference would provide a forum for Afghans to determine their country’s future. The UN would be “facilitating” the event.
According to the spokesman, Afghan factions would be well-represented, including the country's major ethnic group - the Pashtuns, who formed the base of the Taliban. "At this stage we think we have good representation of the Afghan factions," he said. "I don't think it's realistic to expect the Taliban to be participating in this meeting; there is talk that at some future stage moderate elements of the Taliban could be included."
The gathering, formally called the UN Conference on Afghanistan, will be held in Petersberg in Konigswintwer near Bonn.