Northern Alliance promises candidate list Saturday
KOENIGSWINTER, Germany (CNN) -- The Northern Alliance promised to produce a list of names by Saturday of candidates to represent it in an interim government in Afghanistan, and may even bypass the group's current president to get an agreement, alliance officials said.
The other groups participating in talks this week in Germany to move toward that interim government have already compiled their lists. Meetings will resume Saturday morning.
James Dobbins, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan, said it was "too early to call it an impasse," but the talks "have slowed" because the Northern Alliance factions cannot agree on a list.
Diplomatic sources familiar with the talks have said that each of the four groups was to propose a list of candidates for a transitional council and administration.
The delegations would then go through the lists, name-by-name, bargaining over who would play what role.
Dobbins told reporters the hard work will be the bargaining after each delegation presents its list.
However, Northern Alliance Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah told CNN the group fully intends to make the talks a success.
"We will come out of there with an agreement, we shouldn't let this chance to fail once again, and from the other side what we expect from the international community is to also understand the problems that you are dealing with and the problems which we are faced with," Abdullah said.
He said the most important thing Northern Alliance negotiators can do at the talks is to conclude a deal on the list of representatives for the interim government.
Northern Alliance officials said the group will even bypass current Northern Alliance President Burhanuddin Rabbani if they have to, to reach a deal.
Senior U.S. officials said that the Northern Alliance is believed to be having problems compiling a list because of objections from Rabbani.
Northern Alliance chief envoy Younus Qanooni told the other delegations that he is not in a position to agree to any names.
Abdullah said the Northern Alliance leadership council would hold a meeting in Kabul on Saturday to discuss hurdles in the process.
"Hopefully it will come out where it will help the talks to come to a conclusion," he said.
Earlier, United Nations spokesman Ahmad Fawzi told reporters that leaders of the four Afghan groups sat down with the U.N.'s special representative on Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, on Friday morning and would meet him again in the evening "to try to formalize some of these agreements in principle."
The talks were scheduled to end by Saturday and hopes that the four sides would be able to reach a deal had been upbeat. The failure of the Northern Alliance to produce a list left the future of the current round of talks uncertain.
Earlier, Fawzi said the talks were getting down to the "nitty gritty" as the Northern Alliance delegation waited for alliance leaders in Kabul to approve the list of names they will put forward.
The three other Afghan delegations were already prepared to submit their lists for the council seats.
On Wednesday, sources said representatives of the Northern Alliance and former Afghan king Mohammad Zahir Shah had agreed in principle that a transitional supreme council should be created to form an interim government.
But the delegates were still negotiating details of how that council would work. That council could have from 120 to 200 members, the sources said.
They said two commissions were established within the conference to draw up lists of who should be on the council, and they hope to have those lists complete by end of the conference. The council would then pick Afghanistan's interim government.
In other developments, Pashtun leader Haji Abdul Qadir of the Northern Alliance delegations left the talks in an apparent disagreement with the delegation over the level of Pashtun representation at the conference.
Fawzi said the United Nations was "sorry to see him go, and hope he will play a role in some future administration of Afghanistan. But the show must go on."
Fawzi said he did not know if Qadir's name was on the lists of proposed council members.
In addition to the groups representing the king and the Northern Alliance, other delegates to the talks come from the "Peshawar Group," representing the millions of Afghan refugees in Pakistan, and the "Cyprus Group," representing an Iranian-backed group of Afghan exiles.
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