The United Nations' envoy to Afghanistan says the country's former king -- Mohammed Zahir Shah -- could play a major role in forming a possible post-Taleban government.
Francesc Vendrell made the comment today (Sunday) after meeting with Mr. Zahir Shah in Rome. Mr. Vendrell told reporters that the former king had said he wished to be of help to the Afghan people.
Mr. Zahir Shah, who is 86 years old, did not speak to reporters after the meeting. The former king has lived a low-profile existence in Rome since his 1973 overthrow.
But later this week, he is due to meet with a delegation from the anti-Taleban Northern Alliance.
In a newspaper interview the former king said he hopes the Afghan people are not harmed by any punishment given to foreigners living in Afghanistan who committed terrorist attacks.
The comment in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica referred to possible U-S military strikes in Afghanistan in response to the Taleban's refusal to hand over Osama bin Laden. Mr. bin Laden is the United States' prime suspect for the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.