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Christiane Amanpour: Pressure builds on Kandahar



(CNN) As U.S.-led airstrikes target Kandahar, talks are being held in Bonn, Germany, on the government structure of Afghanistan after a perceived Taliban surrender.

The Northern Alliance has a strong presence at those talks. In Kabul, Afghanistan's capital, CNN's Christiane Amanpour spoke with alliance leaders on that subject. She filed this report.

AMANPOUR: The main focus right now are the political talks that are going on in Bonn, Germany, and what's happening, according to sources at those talks, is that there has been an agreement reached, we're told, between the Northern Alliance delegation and the former king's delegation on an interim political solution -- with King Mohammad Zahir Shah acting as the supervisor of this interim settlement until a final agreement is hammered out.

U.N. sources at those talks, which are being sponsored by the U.N., caution that there's still a lot of work to be done and not to draw any conclusions from what's being told to us early this morning.

But another point of very intense focus is the issue of a multinational force for Afghanistan. Both the U.N. and the United States are weighing in on that and they want that force. Now, Northern Alliance delegates at the talks have said that they're not ready to consider that. But it hasn't come up on the table yet and the Northern Alliance key official, the foreign minister, Dr. Abdullah, has told CNN that the Northern Alliance will be flexible on the issue of a multinational peace force. [The alliance's top delegate said later on Thursday that it would not oppose an international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan while a transitional government is being set up.]

We've also been talking to the Northern Alliance defense minister, General Fahim, today. And we asked him what he thought the military situation was around Kandahar with the presence of U.S. troops and the Taliban possibly on the run. Definitely it's their last stand. We asked him if he thought Mullah Omar and the Taliban were going to fold away and melt away anytime soon.

He said he didn't think Mullah Omar was ready to surrender yet, but that the pressure was most definitely building with the presence and the increased numbers of U.S. troops on that area of Kandahar. And he also said that he believed that eventually both Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar would be arrested.

FAHIM: You know that Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden have lost their regular forces. They move very secretly and travel from one place to another secretly. If Kandahar and the suburbs are captured, it's my strong opinion that Osama and Omar will be arrested.

AMANPOUR: On the other issue, we asked both the defense minister and the chief intelligence minister here about the report of an al Qaeda official being captured by anti-Taliban forces. Both officials told us that they had no information on that. It may have been that he had been captured in some other provinces and the information has not yet filtered through to Kabul. But at the moment the word from high officials here in Kabul is that they have no information on the capture or arrest of that so-called top al Qaeda official.



 
 
 
 


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