Diplomatic efforts to bring post-Taleban stability to Afghanistan are pressing ahead at a hectic pace.
President Bush said today (Thursday) that the United States and Russia will work together to bring a broad-based government to the country. The president made the statement as his summit with Russian President Vlaidmir Putin drew to a close at the Bush ranch in Texas.
British foreign secretary Jack Straw today (Thursday) expressed optimism that a broad, multi-ethnic political settlement will emerge in Afghanistan, and that the long task of rebuilding the country may begin quickly.
Foreign Secretary Straw says Britain's new ambassador to Afghanistan, Stephen Evans, will leave for Kabul in a few days. Mr. Evans will be headquartered in the British Embassy compound in Kabul, which has been cared for by local Afghan staff.
Meanwhile, a delegation of Afghan tribal chiefs from six southern provinces is going to Kandahar with the support of former King Mohammed Zahir Shah to try to persuade the Taleban to surrender the embattled town.
Francesc Vendrell, the U-N deputy to the Special Representative for Afghanistan, said the U-N is convinced that the former king should play a role in the post-Taleban government.
In coming days, Mr. Vendrell will head to Kabul for the first visit by a senior U-N official since the city was abandoned by Taleban forces.
In a statement read early today (Thursday) by the Voice of America in the Pashto and Dari languages, the king says his proposals to resolve the Afghan conflict can only be achieved by respecting the free will of the Afghan people.
U-S special envoy James Dobbins arrived in Islamabad Wednesday for separate talks with Pakistani officials and exiled Afghan leaders on the country's future.