UNITED NATIONS -- The United Nations called Tuesday for a two-year transitional government for Afghan-istan backed by a multinational security force, while world leaders said the world body should have a leading role in the war-ravaged nation's peace process.
Lakhdar Brahimi, the top U.N. envoy for Afghanistan, told the U.N. Security Council that a plan to bring Afghanistan's many ethnic and tribal groups together should be completed "as early as humanly possible."
As northern alliance soldiers replaced fleeing Taliban forces in the capital, Kabul, on Tuesday, there was concern that the speed of the military campaign was outpacing U.N.-led diplomatic efforts to get a transitional government installed. Many countries cautioned the northern alliance not to repeat the violence that wracked Kabul during their previous rule.
"We need a U.N. presence there as soon as possible," British Prime Minister Tony Blair said in London.
And John Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told the Security Council: "An international presence must be re-established as soon as possible."
President Bush called for a broad-based government to replace the Taliban.
"We will continue to work with the northern alliance to make sure they recognize that in order for there to be a stable Afghanistan ... after the Taliban leaves, that the country be a good neighbor and that they must recognize that a future government must include representatives from all of Afghanistan," he said in Washington.
Had no choice
The northern alliance foreign minister, who uses the single name Abdullah, defended the opposition's move into Kabul, saying it had no choice because the Taliban's sudden withdrawal left a security vacuum. The United States had asked the alliance to avoid moving on the capital, afraid its presence would complicate efforts to create a coalition government.
At a news conference in Kabul, Abdullah said all Afghan groups should come to the capital to negotiate the future of Afghanistan. And he invited the United Nations to send teams "to help us in the peace process."
The forces of deposed Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani are the main group in the northern alliance. Rabbani's government still holds Afghan-istan's U.N. seat.