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Brahimi continues meetings in Afghanistan on next steps in political transition

Brahimi continues meetings in Afghanistan on next steps in political transition

Lakhdar Brahimi, the senior United Nations envoy in Afghanistan, today continued his intensive consultations with various officials in Kabul in preparation for the next step in Afghanistan's political transition - a process that UN officials described as proceeding "apace."

The key focus of Mr. Brahimi's meetings is laying the groundwork for the appointment of Afghanistan's Special Independent Commission for the convening of the Emergency Loya Jirga, or council of elders, as called for in a political agreement reached by Afghan factions meeting last month in Bonn. Under that agreement, the Commission is to be formed by 22 January.

Among his meetings today, Mr. Brahimi, who serves as Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative for Afghanistan, held talks with a group representing Ayatollah Muhseni - a Shiite leader and head of Harakat Islami - and a group representing Professor Sayyaf, a former official with the United Front who served as a minister under the previous anti-Taliban administration of Burhanuddin Rabbani.

A UN spokesman told the press in Kabul today that the meetings were a continuation of the process of forming the Independent Commission. "Events are moving apace," Ahmad Fawzi said, adding that Mr. Brahimi's contacts included "various sectors of Afghan society - not just the political leadership but also intellectuals, professionals, women's groups."

Mr. Brahimi also met with the Commander of the International Security Assistance Force, General John McColl, to discuss the security situation in general as well as the convening of a joint meeting on Thursday of the Force, the UN and the Afghan Administration.