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U.N. envoy: No timetable for new Afghan government

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- The U.N.'s top Afghanistan envoy said Thursday he can't provide a time frame for finding a political solution that will yield a future government for the war-ravaged country.

"I think we will go as fast as it is humanly possible," Lakhdar Brahimi told a news conference. "The people of Afghanistan have responsibilities, we go just as fast as they can themselves."

Brahimi, a former Algerian diplomat, is scheduled to head from Islamabad on Friday for Iran, continuing the consultations with Afghanistan's neighbors about forming a government that will include representatives of all the factions and tribes that make up Afghanistan's ethnic patchwork.

He also said the "humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is our priority."

Brahimi said the Taliban have met with U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers and that the United Nations is in touch with the militia "on humanitarian issues at all levels and in the future."

"The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is our priority," he said. "That is where we are trying to work against terrible odds and also against time as winter is drawing very near, and in this context, it is of particular concern to us that the shortage of food and other relief supplies in the northern and western provinces ... is very bad."

A broad-based post-Taliban government that includes minority and majority ethnic group representation has been widely touted as the best solution, although it is not clear what this model would mean in practice.

It also needs the support of Afghanistan's neighbors and Brahimi is also expected to make diplomatic visits to Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Brahimi, a former Algerian foreign minister, resigned in frustration two years ago from his current post. He also has cautioned against rushing in with a peacekeeping force that might not be welcomed by Afghans, even if it was a Muslim force, which Turkey has offered to lead.

In an interview with CNN earlier this week, Brahimi said that the September 11 attacks on the U.S. were a "wake-up call" for the world not to allow states like Afghanistan to decay to the brink of collapsing.

He said the sanctuary given to bin Laden by the Taliban demonstrated that decaying states could become havens for extremist movements.

"It's a wake-up call, and many people realize that even small countries far away like Afghanistan cannot be left to sink to the depths to which Afghanistan has sunk," Brahimi said. "If they do, there will be a lot of consequences for a lot of people."


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