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U.N.-Afghan talks postponed one day

BONN, Germany (CNN) -- The official start for bilateral talks between the United Nations and Afghan factional leaders in Bonn, Germany, has been postponed until Tuesday, the German Foreign Ministry said Friday.

Because of travel difficulties, some delegation members will not be able to arrive in Bonn before Tuesday, the ministry said, noting that the official start would take place only when all delegates were present.

The talks, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. (4 a.m. ET) on Tuesday, are aimed at laying the ground work for a post-Taliban Afghan government. They were originally scheduled to open Monday.

Delegation members already in Bonn may use the opportunity to hold preliminary talks over the weekend and confer with the U.N.'s envoy to Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, ahead of the official start.

The United Nations said four Afghan groups have been invited to the talks, including a delegation from the Northern Alliance; representatives of the former Afghan king, Mohammed Zahir Shah; and two groups of Afghan exiles, one based in Peshawar, Pakistan, and another based in Cyprus.

The U.N. is still receiving names of participants in the talks. It does not expect the list to be final until Sunday.

"We are asking the Afghans to draw up their own list. We are not telling them who to include," said Ahmad Fawzi, a spokesman for Brahimi.

Most of the 15-member U.N. delegation is expected to arrive in Bonn on Saturday. Fawzi said the Afghan parties will begin arriving Saturday, with most arriving on Sunday.

"If we come out of this meeting with a framework for the process for a political transition, then we will have succeeded," Fawzi said. "This is the first step in a long road toward establishing good governance in Afghanistan."

The U.N. hopes that from this process, a transitional government will be appointed that could rule the country for two years, followed by the establishment of a permanent government.

-- CNN Berlin Bureau Chief Bettina Luscher and CNN U.N. Producer Liz Neisloss contributed to this report.



 
 
 
 



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