ISLAMABAD, Nov 15: Pakistan and Iran would not be part of any multinational force to be deployed in Afghanistan for maintenance of peace, said UN deputy special representative for Afghanistan, Francesc Vendrell, here on Thursday.

Responding to questions regarding timeframe for possible UN peacekeeping force and administration in Afghanistan at a news conference, Mr Vendrell said that a multi-national force was not necessarily a peacekeeping force. “There is no agreement yet to verify, there is no peace agreement, so the issue of a classic blue-helmeted force does not arise for the moment.” There was a need for some kind of coalition of the willing, of an international security force, that would be available to maintain order, help new provisional or interim council work inside Kabul and also to help the UN to carry out its functions there, he said.

Mr Vendrell said that the establishment of United Nations political and humanitarian offices in Afghanistan did not mean the recognition of Northern Alliance as the new rulers.

Deputy special representative of the UN secretary-general for Afghanistan Francesc Vendrell said that the UN had a presence in Afghanistan before Sept 11 but it did not mean recognition of Taliban. Legitimacy was a question to be decided by the Afghan people and this needed to be done through an internationally acceptable process, such as elections or a very carefully-convened Loya Jirga, he said.

About former King Zahir Shah’s role in any future set-up, he said the United Nations was convinced that he had a role to play in the future of Afghanistan. “I have just received a poll, admittedly not the most scientific poll, but a poll conducted by UNSMA officers in Peshawar of newly arrived refugees and the support for the former king is overwhelming.”

Answering a question regarding the return of President Rabbani as the new President in Kabul, Mr Vendrell said that Prof Rabbani had not yet returned to Kabul, but if he did return he had the right to call himself the President of the Islamic State of Afghanistan. “This is not the same as President of Afghanistan.” The title Prof Rabbani chooses to take was up to him but it was for the international community to recognize any new government in Afghanistan, he said.

Mr Vendrell is scheduled to leave for Afghanistan over the weekend to hold talks with the Northern Alliance leaders.

“During my visit to Afghanistan, I intend to spend quite some time talking to the various leaders of the United Front (Northern Alliance) to discuss the situation in the country, listening to their views and to their plans, but also asking them to listen to our views. Our views have the full support of the international community,” he said.

About acceptability of decisions of a Loya Jirga, he said that the Loya Jirga would have to be based on a consensus of various Afghan groups as to its composition and there would have to be a UN presence to ensure that it was not upstaged by any particular group.

Confirming the collapse of the Taliban government throughout the country, deputy special representative said that the assessment of UN was that the Taliban was in the process of disintegration as an organized force and particularly as an organized administration.

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