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US urges ‘coalition of the willing’

November 14, 2001

NEW YORK, Nov 13: Amid calls for speedy formation of a broad-based multi-ethnic interim government in Afghanistan the US secretary of state Colin Powell has demanded for an international “coalition of the willing,” led by soldiers from Muslim nations, to secure the capital.

Mr Powell who was in New York to attend the six-plus-two meeting on Afghanistan at the United Nations said Turkey, Bangladesh and Indonesia have offered forces for an operation that would buttress a “bridging political structure” under the United Nations control.

“There is a general deterioration of the Taliban military position,” secretary Powell said in an interview with The New York Times . “Once you start something like this, it tends to start rolling, and they can’t stop it.”

Mr Powell excluded the deployment of Americans in this force, saying it would be better to have Muslim countries “than one of the big-power nations coming in to do it.”

President Bush, following his meeting with President Musharraf, agreed that a contingency planning around how to employ such a force with a United Nations presence until a broad- based group of Afghan leaders could be assembled to form a government.

Gen Musharraf told a press conference in New York on Monday evening that Pakistan’s position on the formation of the future government was well received by the world leaders.

Mr Powell said that the United States has a number of covert operations underway. He declined to describe them in detail, but said they were intended to foment a weakening of the Taliban’s control of the centre and south of Afghanistan.

These, he said, were “special sorts of operations to encourage activity in the South that would not be in the best interest of the Taliban.”