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RFE/RL Interviews Northern Alliance Leader on Plan for Bonn Conference

(Prague, Czech Republic–November 21, 2001) Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance leader Burhanuddin Rabbani in an exclusive late night interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty said his representative in Bonn next week will reaffirm that all ethnic groups are to be represented in Afghanistan’s future government.

Rabbani spoke by telephone from Kabul to Prague in an hour-long roundtable discussion conducted in the Tajik language with correspondents from RFE/RL’s Persian, Tajik, Turkmen and Uzbek services.

He said at the UN-sponsored conference of Afghan factions opening in Berlin on Monday, the Northern Alliance would stress three main points: the general inclusiveness of the new government, the need also to include representatives of refugees and Afghans living in diaspora, and placing clear limits on a foreign military presence in the country.

“In principle, we do not agree with the presence of foreign troops inside Afghanistan. But we do not object to a limited number of troops performing humanitarian and logistical duties,” he said.

Rabbani, an ethnic Tajik, dismissed concerns that Pashtuns or Hazaras–who have been periodically at odds with the Northern Alliance despite their strategic alliance against the Taliban–might be left out of the ruling body.

He said that through the mechanism of the soon-to-be-convened Loya Yirga, a council of tribal chiefs of ethnic Tajiks, Uzbeks, Turkmens, Shi’a Hazaras and Pashtuns, a broad-based government will be established and that it should include also representatives of the Afghan diaspora. “Our program also says that more rights should be granted to those people who belong to the (anti-Taliban) resistance and to those people who are living in refugee camps.” Rabbani said.

The interview was aired today in RFE/RL broadcasts to Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Iraq and Uzbekistan, and Rabbani’s comments were reported in broadcasts by RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz, Kazakh and other language services.