- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 16, 2001

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell yesterday named a special envoy to coordinate the formation of a new Afghan government if the hard-line Taliban militia is driven from power.
Mr. Powell said Richard N. Haass, the State Department's director of policy planning, has been tapped with the task of consulting with the United Nations, as well as other countries and Afghan opposition groups, about Afghanistan's future.
Mr. Haass "will be my personal representative examining alternatives with the U.N. and other nations directly," Mr. Powell told reporters en route to Pakistan, as he embarked on a South Asia trip that also includes India and the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Shanghai later this week.
Mr. Haass flew to New York yesterday to meet with U.N. officials. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special representative for Afghanistan, Lakhtar Brahimi, will hold talks with U.S. officials in Washington later this week, Mr. Powell said.
"In the last several days, we've picked up the beat with what we may have to do in a post-Taliban world," he said. "What we are doing really is contingency planning, getting ready for the possibility that sometime in the near future there could be a need to respond to the collapse of the government, if one can call that evil regime a government."
Mr. Powell said he will discuss the composition of a future Afghan government with India and Pakistan, but no country will have a veto over what regime would replace the Taliban.
"It's those nations who are in the neighborhood, of course, that perhaps share a more direct interest in the outcome as opposed to someone further away," he said. "But I don't think anyone would suggest any longer that they should have a veto over Afghanistan with respect to a future government."
The State Department said Mr. Haass, one of Mr. Powell's closest and most trusted aides, will continue to serve as the Bush administration's point man in the Northern Ireland peace process and as the chief policy coordinator for Iraq.
Earlier this month, Mr. Haass became the highest-ranking U.S. official in recent memory to meet with the former Afghan king, Mohammed Zahir Shah. The 83-year-old ex-monarch, who has proposed a grand assembly of elders to form a new Afghan government, has held talks with several U.S. politicians and diplomats in Rome, where he lives now.
Mr. Haass, 50, emerged as one of the dovish foreign policy officials early on in the Bush administration, which was accused repeatedly of unilateralism before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
In his 1997 book "The Reluctant Sheriff," he argued that Washington should attempt to build an international order based on less reliance on force to resolve disputes, reducing the number of weapons of mass destruction, settling for a limited doctrine of humanitarian intervention and maximum economic openness.
Mr. Haass returned to the State Department after spending the last several years as vice president and head of foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution.
He served in various positions in the Reagan and first Bush administrations in the 1980s and early 1990s.
He was special assistant to former President George Bush and senior director for Near East and South Asian affairs on the National Security Council. In 1991, he was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal for his contributions to the development and articulation of U.S. policy during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in the family of an investment banker, he was later a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford.

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