Afghan neighbors back new broad-based government


Afghanistan's neighbors, speaking for the first time with a single voice, expressed support today for the formation by the Afghan people of a broad-based and freely chosen post-Taliban government.

The declaration was to be formally endorsed on Monday by foreign ministers of the group, known in diplomatic circles as the six-plus-two. The eight ministers were due to meet at UN headquarters on the sidelines of the annual general debate of the 189-nation UN General Assembly.

The draft statement, approved by national experts yesterday and obtained by Reuterstoday, said the eight nations agreed the Afghan people should establish a broad-based, multi-ethnic, politically balanced, freely chosen Afghan administration representative of their aspirations and at peace with its neighbors.

This administration must be able to meet the needs of the Afghan people and respect human rights, regional stability and Afghanistan's international obligations, including suppression of trade in narcotics, according to the draft.

The statement encouraged contributions from Afghans both inside and outside the country, and also welcomed a central UN role in helping Afghans replace the ruling Taliban.