- BONN - US officials put heavy
pressure on Afghanistan's nominal President Burhanuddin Rabbani to step
aside, threatening serious consequences if he blocked a new government,
officials at the talks said on Wednesday.
Apart from the threat of withholding billions of dollars in reconstruction
aid, the US reminded the reluctant leader that he would not be back in
Kabul if it had not been for the heavy American bombing campaign that preceded
his return, they said.
A US official called Northern Alliance warlords such as Ismail Khan in
Herat, Uzbek Abdul Rashid Dostum and the Shiite Hazara leader Karim Khalili
to have them persuade Rabbani to approve the power-sharing deal worked
out in nine days of exhausting negotiations, the officials at the talks
Host country Germany also used its good contacts with Iran and Russia to
get them to put pressure on him as well, the officials said. "The
problems we had earlier with him are solved," said an official involved
in the negotiations.
"Will we have future problems between now and December 22 when the
transfer of power takes place, we will have to see," he said. "We
ought to be prepared that people may raise issues and we will need to keep
working with them."
Washington relied on Afghan-born Zalmay Khalilzad, a special assistant
to President George Bush and National Security Council official, to telephone
Rabbani and others in Afghanistan. In the corridors of the isolated Petersberg
hotel where the Bonn talks took place, Khalilzad mixed easily with the
Afghan delegates, helped by his facility in their languages.
According to an official close to the negotiations, Khalilzad confronted
Rabbani with the message that anyone who hindered the peace process would
be held accountable and face unspecific consequences. He was also told
his reputation in history could suffer, the official said. "The efforts
to put Rabbani back in his box have succeeded," a Western envoy said.
"My gut feeling is Rabbani is being bypassed, eclipsed, but he is
not out of the picture."
- The News International, Pakistan http://jang.com.pk/thenews/dec2001-daily/06-12-2001/national/n2.htm