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Afghan Exiles, Elders Urge Traditional Grand Assembly, End To Airstrikes - 2001-10-25


More than one-thousand Afghan exiles, tribal elders and supporters of the former king, Zahir Shah, have called for an end to hostilities in Afghanistan and a traditional grand assembly (loya Jirga) to form new broad-based government.

After a two-day meeting in Peshawar, Pakistan, the participants issued a resolution calling on the United States to stop its airstrikes in Afghanistan.

The resolution says U-S led military operations may cause the fall of the Taleban regime and create a political vacuum, which --if filled by any group through military means -- would lead to new bloodshed and disorder.

Observers say the resolution is seen as a veiled warning to the opposition Northern Alliance, whose forces are battling the Taleban troops.

The resolution calls for a grand assembly of all groups and underscores the importance of a role for the former monarch.

Wednesday, exiled Afghan leader Pir Sayed Ahmad Gailani proposed that the United Nations send a peacekeeping force made up of troops from Muslim nations to Afghanistan until law and order can be restored.

Meanwhile, Turkey says it is willing to host a meeting of Afghan groups opposed to the Taleban. Turkish leaders approved a request made Tuesday by representatives of the former king and the Northern Alliance ( which is made up of ethnic minorities).

Turkey -- a predominately Muslim state with a secular government -- also indicated its willingness to send peacekeepers to Afghanistan once hostilities come to an end.

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