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Late-night talks in Koenigswinter

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Afghan factional leaders meeting in Germany worked into the night to put the finishing touches on plans for a post-Taliban government as Afghan fighters and U.S. Marines waited for a possible move against Kandahar, the last Taliban bastion in southern Afghanistan.

Despite rapid advances by opposition forces across Afghanistan, "a good deal of turmoil in the country" endangers Americans and others fighting the Taliban and al Qaeda, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned in a CNN interview Saturday.


Afghan leaders meeting in Koenigswinter, Germany, outside Bonn, said Saturday they were "very close" to an agreement on an interim government to replace the Taliban. The government would replace the internationally recognized one led by Burnhanuddin Rabbani, the Afghan president ousted by the Taliban in 1996, U.N. spokesman Ahmad Rawzi said. (Full story)

The U.S. Central Command denied reports that bombs from U.S. bombing raids aimed at remaining Taliban and al Qaeda forces killed about 50 Afghan villagers near Jalalabad. A spokesman for the Central Command said U.S. planes attacked a network of caves and tunnels near Tora Bora, but that none of the bombs hit civilian areas. (Full story)

A battalion-sized force of U.S. Marines dug in at a desert airstrip near Kandahar on Friday, quietly awaiting orders that one Marines spokesman pledged would be accomplished "with a vengeance." In a CNN interview, Rumsfeld said "small pockets" of Taliban fighters in other parts of Afghanistan still pose a threat to U.S. troops. (Full story)

The U.S. Marine contingent in southern Afghanistan has had limited contact with Taliban forces so far. The worst enemies most of the Marines have encountered so far are cold, isolation and boredom, CNN's Walter Rodgers reports. (Full story)

The Northern Alliance says the al Qaeda organization and the Taliban are preparing to wage guerrilla warfare from the mountains of southern and central Afghanistan, CNN's Ben Wedeman reports. (Full story)

  •  Summary

  •  Update

  •  Key questions

  •  Who's who

  •  Impact

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Who are the Northern Alliance and other key players in the political landscape of Afghanistan, and how could U.S. military intervention affect the balance of power there? (Click here for more)

Will the Taliban surrender or will they continue to fight, possibly launching a guerilla war out of Afghanistan's mountains? (Click here for more)

Where is Mullah Omar Mohammed, the spiritual leader of the Taliban?

What kind of government will replace the Taliban if the religious group is removed as the country's government? Will there be a U.N. or international peacekeeping force in Kabul? (Click here for more)

How are the citizens of Kabul reacting to the Taliban abandoning the city? (Click here for more)

How long will the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan last? (Click here for more)

What is the goal of the U.S. airstrikes over Afghanistan? What is the key to the mission's success? (Click here for more)

What is the White House doing to prevent al Qaeda from airing what it calls "propaganda" on U.S. media outlets? (Click here for more)


George W. Bush: U.S. president (Click here for more)

Osama bin Laden: A wealthy Saudi expatriate living in Afghanistan who U.S. authorities cite as one of the primary suspects in masterminding the attacks. (Click here for more)

Condoleezza Rice: U.S. national security adviser. (Click here for more)

Colin Powell: U.S. secretary of state. A former Army general, Powell also served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Click here for more. (Click here for more.)

Gen. Richard B. Myers: Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. (Click here for more)

Gen. Tommy Franks: Head of U.S. Central Command. (Click here for more)

Donald Rumsfeld: U.S. secretary of defense. (Click here for more)

The Taliban: A group of Islamic fundamentalists, mainly from Afghanistan's Pashtun ethnic group, which is the country's largest ethnic group. The Taliban that gained control of most of the country by 1997 and instituted an extreme form of Islamic law. (Click here for more)

Northern Alliance: A group of former mujahedeen fighters, mainly from minority ethnic groups that oppose the Taliban. (Click here for more)

George Robertson: NATO secretary-general and former British defense minister. (Click here for more)

George Tenet: CIA director. (Click here for more)


The military attacks that began October 7 mark the start of what the Bush administration says will be a lengthy struggle against terrorist organizations worldwide -- one that could take years.


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