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In Germany, UN officials prepare for talks on Afghanistan's future

In Germany, UN officials prepare for talks on Afghanistan's future

One day before the start of United Nations-sponsored talks on the future of Afghanistan, UN officials were holding intensive consultations at the conference’s site near Bonn, Germany, in an effort to speed up the process towards the formation of a representative, broad-based and multi-ethnic Afghan government.

“We need to get a transitional authority in the country as soon as possible, and all the parties agree that this is imperative – that speed is of the essence,” said Ahmad Fawzi, a spokesman for Lakhdar Brahimi, the chief UN envoy for Afghanistan.

Mr. Brahimi, who is Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative, along with his Deputy, Francesc Vendrell, and the eight other members of the official UN delegation, have already arrived in the town of Petersberg, where they have been conducting bilateral meetings with the participants on the format of the talks, the opening ceremony and the agenda. Afghan groups have also been consulting with each other.

The principals attending the talks will include 11 representatives from the United Front, 11 from the Rome group and three each from the Peshawar and Cyprus groups, according to a provisional list released by the UN. The names of three women are on the list of the attendees. In addition to the Afghan participants, 18 countries and the European Union have requested accreditation as observers to the talks.

In a related development, a meeting of Afghan civil society groups is scheduled to open on Thursday in Bonn. That event is expected to attract up to 50 representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academics, journalists, professionals, women's organizations and members of the Afghan diaspora.