- The Washington Times - Monday, November 19, 2001

Secretary of State Colin Powell said yesterday the victorious Northern Alliance has agreed to join U.N.-led talks about forming a broad-based government in Afghanistan to succeed the Taliban militia.
Meanwhile, he and other administration officials appearing on news talk shows yesterday said the United States will continue its military campaign in Afghanistan until Osama bin Laden is found and the Taliban and al Qaeda are crushed.
"This war is not over. It will continue … until the Taliban power is totally cracked, and other tribes in the south reassert control," Mr. Powell said on "Fox News Sunday."
"Let's also keep in mind that our political objective was to get al Qaeda, the terrorist network, and to get Osama bin Laden. So the United States' political objective and military objective will not be satisfied until we have done that in Afghanistan," the secretary added.
Mr. Powell said he was "very pleased" that the Northern Alliance, whose military victories over the Taliban has put it in command of two-thirds of Afghanistan, has agreed to take part in U.N.-brokered talks about establishing a new power-sharing government in that country.
"The purpose of the meeting would be to bring together a number of leaders representing different parts of Afghanistan different ethnicities, different tribes and see if we can get an interim government in place and then stand up a broader government over time," said the secretary.
Although he could not say where or when the meeting would be held, Mr. Powell said it should be convened as quickly as possible.
Haron Amin, special representative for the Northern Alliance who appeared on several Sunday talk shows, said the gathering may happen in Germany.
"I would presume that within the next week it should be taking place," he said on CNN's "Late Edition."
Mr. Amin said the Northern Alliance wanted the meeting held in the Afghan capital of Kabul, which is now under control by its forces. The "consensus," however, was to hold it elsewhere, he said on CNN.
Until now, the Northern Alliance has been the "holdup" in efforts to have the United Nations oversee the creation of a diverse Afghan government, Mr. Powell said on Fox.
The United States has pressured the alliance to share power with other parties, including ethnic Pashtuns in southern Afghanistan.
On CBS' "Face the Nation" yesterday, Mr. Amin said he believes the "key" to any successful, productive government in Afghanistan "would be to have all ethnic groups [represented] on a proportional basis."
Only the Taliban should be excluded, he said. "All other groups, Pashtuns or anybody else, should join in the future government."
He added that women, who had no rights under the Taliban's strict interpretation of Muslim law, should be part of the government.
Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott said on Fox that as long as the military campaign remains unfinished in Afghanistan, the United States should not be overly concerned about the future government there.
"I don't think we ought to be obsessed with … the next government. We ought to be obsessed with getting the people that have been killing people all over the world and responsible for over 4,000 people's lives up there in the rubble still in New York City. I think the American people want us to go forth and do the deed," the Mississippi Republican said.
On ABC's "This Week," Mr. Powell said U.S. peacekeepers may be required while an interim government is put in place.
"It may well require a military presence on the ground … both in order to bring in humanitarian supplies, or for the purpose of just providing a level of stability in the towns that are being liberated," he said.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, interviewed on CBS' "Face the Nation," called the achievements of the six-week U.S. military campaign "impressive."
He read a dispatch from a special forces officer, who, he said, is "literally riding horseback with a sword with one of the Northern Alliance."
In the dispatch, the special forces officer said the alliance's guerrillas are "doing well with what they have, but they couldn't do it without the close air support" being provided by U.S. pilots.
The Taliban, Mr. Wolfowitz said, is "in great disarray" and "on the run."
Both he and Mr. Powell said they believe bin Laden is still in Afghanistan, despite unsubstantiated reports to the contrary.
Mr. Powell said no country bordering Afghanistan not even China would give bin Laden haven. "I don't think this fellow is going to be welcome anywhere. He is an outcast. He is a murderer. He's a terrorist," he said on Fox.
Mr. Wolfowitz pledged that if bin Laden does manage to get out of Afghanistan, the United States would "continue pursuing" him.
"Let's also remember, we're going to continue pursuing the entire al Qaeda network, which is in 60 countries, not just Afghanistan, and, worst of all, in the United States," he said on CBS.
Mr. Powell was asked about a report in The Washington Post yesterday that said the CIA has paramilitary forces in Afghanistan.
He would not confirm that but said on ABC that intelligence personnel are "working alongside our military forces" and that there was "a very fine linkup" between intelligence and military forces.
But a CIA spokeswoman dismissed as "ludicrous" a companion story in The Post charging that the CIA had withheld information about its operations from the U.S. military.
"There has never been a better relationship between the CIA and the military," she told Reuters news agency. "We are sharing all information with the Central Command on this issue, and any suggestion that we are not as ludicrous."
The military's Central Command, which controls U.S. forces in Afghanistan, had no immediate comment.


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