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Afghanistan: Conference Agrees On Interim Government

Bonn, 5 December 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Four Afghan groups at a conference on the future of Afghanistan near the German city of Bonn agreed early today on a list names for a provisional government, UN spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said. The new interim government will be headed by Pashtun tribal commander Hamid Karzai. It will take office on 22 December and is to run for six months before handing power over to a broad-based transitional government. The agreement came on the ninth day of talks among the four Afghan factions held at near Bonn. The interim authority will rule Afghanistan until a broader-based government can be set up.

The German government, which is acting as conference host, has arranged for a ceremony this morning marking the signing of the UN-brokered deal. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder will be present at the ceremony, which comes ahead of an international donors' conference for Afghanistan due to start later today in the German capital Berlin.

A two-day international conference to coordinate aid for Afghanistan begins today in Germany's capital Berlin. Germany currently presides over the Afghanistan Support Group. The group comprises the 15 largest donor countries, the European Commission, United Nations aid agencies, and the International Committee of the Red Cross. The conference will be opened by German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer.

Reports say Germany has made it clear that a final agreement on a post-Taliban administration in Afghanistan is crucial before a new aid package will be made available.

The German Foreign Ministry says the Berlin meeting will address the Afghan refugee crisis, the thousands of displaced people within the country due to famine and war, the return of refugees and exiles from abroad and other aspects of the country's reconstruction.

Participants will include UN High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers. Lubbers unveiled a plan of action last week for helping millions of Afghans displaced by the continuing conflict in Afghanistan.

Russia is to expand its delivery of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan by opening a second route for convoys. Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu made the comment yesterday in Moscow. He said a second route from the Tajik capital Dushanbe to Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan should be opened within the next few days. Russian convoys presently depart from Osh in Kyrgyzstan for the northern Afghan town of Fayzabad.

Russia announced last week that it would join Britain, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and the UN World Food Program in the distribution of 16,000 tons of food aid in northern provinces of Afghanistan between now and March.

Moscow also has recently opened several field hospitals in Kabul, as well as a humanitarian center where some 100 employees of Russia's ministries of Emergency Situations, Foreign Affairs, and Health are to work.

Emergency Situations Ministry officials in Kabul said the employees will coordinate the distribution of aid supplies transported from Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan to Afghanistan.