- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 11, 2001

The United States yesterday outlined a vision for a post-Taliban Afghanistan with a pivotal role for the United Nations, as China and Russia endorsed the concept of a coalition government to replace the hard-line militia.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, meanwhile, said he hoped to ease tensions between India and Pakistan on a visit to the two nuclear powers in the coming days. India has said it will stress to Mr. Powell its opposition to Pakistan's inclusion in the U.S.-led anti-terror coalition.
The Bush administration until now has said that toppling the Taliban and installing a new government in Kabul is not among its objectives. But Mr. Powell said yesterday the United States will be involved in rebuilding Afghanistan as part of a broad multinational effort.
"The United Nations might well have to play a very, very important role in a post-Taliban world," he said in an NBC interview.
"We want to see eventually arise in Afghanistan a government that represents all the people," he said.
"It's important for all of us to recognize that, in a post-Taliban Afghanistan, we will have important work to do humanitarian work, economic development, helping the people of Afghanistan and putting in place some level of stability that has so far eluded Afghanistan in recent years."
Washington has been reluctant to designate the opposition Northern Alliance as the Taliban's successor, even though it is still recognized as Afghanistan's legitimate government by the United Nations. U.S. officials have also been in contact with the former Afghan King Mohammed Zahir Shah, who now lives in Rome.
In a major blow to the Taliban, China and Russia said yesterday they support the formation of a coalition government in Afghanistan. Their positions became clear during a telephone conversation between the two foreign ministers, Tang Jiaxuan and Igor Ivanov, Chinese state media reported.
Mr. Ivanov told Mr. Tang that the international community should support the establishment of "a coalition government with a wide-ranging basis," according to the People's Daily newspaper.
Mr. Tang said in turn that a coalition government that was "able to cooperate with neighboring countries in a friendly manner" would benefit the Afghan people and regional peace and stability.
China has closed its short stretch of border with Afghanistan.
Both Beijing and Moscow back Washington's campaign against terrorism, but they have also sought Western support for their own troubles with groups they view as terrorist.
During the phone call yesterday, Mr. Tang drew parallels between Moscow's conflict in Chechnya and Beijing's campaign against Islamic separatists in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, the People's Daily said.
"China and Russia have the same stance and interests on the issue of anti-terrorism," the newspaper quoted Mr. Tang as saying.
Terrorism will be high on the agenda during President Bush's visit to Shanghai next week for the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, a senior State Department official said yesterday at the end of a two-day trip to Beijing.
James Kelly, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, visited the Chinese capital to prepare for the first meeting between Mr. Bush and Chinese President Jiang Zemin.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Mr. Kelly also "had a detailed discussion of our respective views on nonproliferation," but he stopped short of further describing those talks as "frank" or "candid," as the State Department has done in the past.
In an effort to smooth out frictions between India and Pakistan, which could potentially weaken the anti-terrorist coalition, Mr. Powell said he will urge both countries to more vigorously pursue their dialogue on the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir and other issues.
The Indian Foreign Ministry said New Delhi will tell Mr. Powell during his visit that the United States "has made the problem a part of its solution" by including Pakistan in the coalition, "which we will not accept as long as Pakistan supports cross-border terrorism in Kashmir."
India accuses Pakistan of arming and training Islamic guerrillas in Kashmir.
Islamabad rejects the accusations but backs what it calls a legitimate struggle for self-rule.
Mr. Powell is expected to depart at the end of the week, but the State Department declined to be more specific.
In the NBC interview, Mr. Powell also dismissed fresh threats against the United States by Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network and said a statement by the group televised Tuesday may have contained "some kind of message," adding, "That's why analysts are looking at it."
The al Qaeda spokesman, Sulaiman Bu Ghaith, said on Qatar's Al Jazeera television network that there would be more attacks on the United States until it "exits our land," stops supporting Israel and lifts sanctions on Iraq.
"It's a chilling challenge, but I assure you we will meet that challenge," Mr. Powell said.
"We will pursue that campaign until that spokesman will no longer have any reason to make such boasts," he said.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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