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U.N. outlines new vision for post-Taliban Afghanistan

Tuesday, November 13, 2001

Associated Press WriterUNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The United Nations envoy called Tuesday for a two-year transitional government backed by a multinational security force in Afghanistan.

Lakhdar Brahimi, outlined a plan before the U.N. Security Council to bring Afghanistan's many ethnic and tribal groups together "as early as humanly possible."

He envisioned a meeting between the U.S.-backed northern alliance, whose forces captured Kabul on Tuesday, capping a five-day drive to the capital, and representatives of other ethnic groups to discuss the framework for a political transition.

Brahimi said the goal would be to convene a provisional council that reflects the country's ethnic diversity. He suggested it should be chaired "by an individual recognized as a symbol of national unity," an apparent reference to Afghanistan's exiled king, Zaher Shah.

The 87-year-old monarch, who has lived in Rome since he was ousted in 1973, is seen by some as a unifying figure in a possible transitional government.

Under Brahimi's proposal, the council would put together the two-year transitional government. During that period, a loya jirga, or grand council of prominent Afghans, would draw up a constitution and a second gathering would approve it and create a permanent Afghan government.

Brahimi, an Algerian diplomat, said turning around "a collapsed and destitute state" that has become a breeding ground for terrorists would require the political and financial support of all nations.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan wants Brahimi's deputy to travel to Kabul soon, and the United Nations is eager to try to get its staff back into the country and to deliver humanitarian aid.

Brahimi said a government ruled by Afghans "would be far more credible than one run by U.N. officials parachuted in," he said.

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