UN approves Afghan gov’t

Edith M. Lederer and Edith M. Lederer

UNITED NATIONS – The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a power-sharing agreement for a temporary post-Taliban government in Afghanistan yesterday but held off authorizing a multinational security force.

The council said in a resolution that it is determined to help the Afghan people establish lasting peace after more than two decades of war, and to cooperate with the international community “to put an end to the use of Afghanistan as a base for terrorism.”

The resolution endorses the agreement signed Wednesday by four Afghan factions in Bonn, Germany. It urges all Afghan groups to implement it “in full.”

The U.N.-brokered agreement calls for a 30-member interim authority to govern Afghanistan for six months, starting Dec. 22. The former king will then convene a traditional tribal council to pave the way for elections within two years.

The agreement asks the Security Council to authorize a multinational force to assist in maintaining security, initially in the capital Kabul and possibly elsewhere later.

The United States wanted to include a reference to the force in the resolution, but other council members wanted a number of questions answered first so there is no mention of a force, diplomats said.

Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador Andrey Granovsky said the council needed to consult with Afghan leaders about a security force. “We want to know what they think about it. This is not a ‘no man’s land.’ They live there.”

Council members also want to know who is going to contribute troops and who is going to lead the force and they want assurance that there are no clashes between the U.N. force and the U.S.-led military operation, diplomats said.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said yesterday in Brussels that an international peacekeeping force will soon be sent into Afghanistan, although “the mix and the leadership” among nations has yet to be determined. “There will be no shortage of troops,” he said.

U.S. deputy ambassador James Cunningham said the resolution gave a “political impulse” to the agreement. He said countries needed to discuss how to meet the request for an international force before the council acts.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said: “We have many hurdles ahead, and we are going to try and do our best, and we expect the Afghan parties to cooperate with us.”