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Delegates Begin Arriving in Bonn for Afghanistan Conference - 2001-11-25


Delegates are beginning to arrive in the German city of Bonn to attend U-N sponsored talks on forming a transitional post-Taleban government.

Talks will start Tuesday in the former German capital city's secluded Petersberg Hotel.

Originally set to start Monday, the United Nations says the talks have been postponed a day to allow more time for preliminary discussions.

Afghan delegates to the talks are expected to come from a number of different groups.

The former president of Afghanistan, Burhanuddin Rabbani, who says he is still the internationally recognized leader of the country, will be represented. The Northern Alliance, which has taken control of much of the country, will also be there.

Among the Northern Alliance delegates will be representatives from the Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara ethnic minorities.

Former King Zahir Shah will also send a delegation, reportedly including two women. There will also be representatives of Afghanistan's largest tribal group, the Pashtuns.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has made it clear it does not want Afghanistan dominated by the Northern Alliance. Russia and Iran, on the other hand, are said to be backing the Northern Alliance.

United Nations deputy representative Francesc Vendrell has warned the outside world not to have high expectations that the meeting will immediately agree on the kind of power-sharing plan the U-N Security Council wants.

But news reports suggest the outlook is not bleak. Mr. Rabbani said in a British newspaper interview that he would step down if the meeting names a new head of government. The Northern Alliance has said it is prepared to be flexible.

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