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Afghanistan: Karzai Postpones Constitutional Loya Jirga

Kabul, 7 September 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai has postponed for two months the holding of a grand council, or Loya Jirga, which is to approve a new constitution. The delay was announced today in Kabul by Karzai's spokesman Jawid Luddin.

Luddin said Karzai has postponed the date for the Loya Jirga until mid-December. Luddin said nationwide elections scheduled for June next year will still be able to take place on time.

Karzai made his decision following demands from the commission responsible for drafting the new Afghan constitution, which has sought more time to get input from ordinary Afghans.

Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld arrived today in Afghanistan for talks with Karzai.

Rumsfeld and Karzai met at the presidential palace in Kabul to discuss the security situation in the country as well as progress on reconstruction efforts.

Rumsfeld's one-day visit to Afghanistan follows more than a week of fierce fighting between the remnants of the Taliban regime and U.S.-led coalition forces in the south and southeast of the country.