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Updated: 29-Sep-2003

SHAPE News Morning Update

29 September 2003


  • France calls U.S. timeline `a step forward' but still wants quick transfer of power to Iraqis
  • Top official sees likely NATO engagement in Iraq


  • Afghan constitution sees presidential system
  • Karzai holding private talks with NATO chief in Scotland


  • Kosovo's government seeks parliamentary approval for talks with Serbia


  • France called a U.S. proposal for Iraqis to adopt a constitution in six months "a step forward" but still wants the United States to transfer power to an Iraqi government by the end of the year, a demand that is unacceptable to the Bush administration. French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin told Europe-1 radio on Sunday that he expects the United States to circulate the new resolution on Tuesday. President Jacques Chirac has said France will not veto it but de Villepin said France's support will be contingent on whether it provides for "a change in the reality on the ground." "There's a spiral of violence and terror and everything must be done to stop it," de Villepin said. "The solution lies in a transfer of sovereignty. ... That could take place in a short time, between now and the end of the year." (AP 290424 Sep 03)

  • A senior NATO official was quoted on Saturday as saying the military alliance would likely get involved in Iraq, just as it had done in Afghanistan. "If, as is to be expected, there is still a great need for troops to stabilise the country, NATO will be faced with this question, sooner rather than later," General Harald Kujat, head of NATO's military committee, told Welt am Sonntag newspaper. "We must ask ourselves whether we can afford for a NATO member, and the biggest at that, to get into difficulties and be left alone," he said in an interview with the German paper released ahead of publication on Sunday. Kujat said NATO involvement in Iraq could follow the route taken in Afghanistan where the alliance initially supported individual members indirectly and then took control of a sector. Kujat said NATO was ideally positioned for Iraq: "It accommodates both sides -- the Europeans with their demand for multilateralism, the Americans with their condition that they continue to be the leading military power." (Reuters 271028 GMT Sep 03)


  • Afghanistan's draft constitution outlines a nation based on Islam but does not impose strict Sharia law and calls for a president elected by popular vote, the Washington Post said in a weekend report. The constitution is to be debated and ratified by a 500-member Loya Jirga, or national assembly, in December. The Washington Post said a draft copy it obtained consisted of 182 brief articles and 39 pages that balance the competing demands of a post-war society struggling to chart a course between Islamic and secular values, domestic tradition and international norms, immediate political needs and permanent legal standards. One of the greatest challenges facing those drafting the first constitution for Afghanistan since 1964 was how to divide power between a president and prime minister without creating two similarly powerful positions that could spark violent rivalry. The compromise worked out in the draft is for a semi-presidential system in which a strong executive will be chosen by direct popular vote, the Washington Post said. (Reuters 290144 GMT Sep 03)

  • Afghan President Hamid Karzai was meeting with NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson Sunday for talks expected to focus on a possible expansion of the peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan. A NATO spokesman said the two men were taking the opportunity to meet face to face as Roberston, who was in Kabul on Friday, had been unable to meet Karzai there in person. In a statement, NATO said Robertson's visit to Kabul and his meeting with Karzai in Scotland "clearly demonstrate NATO's commitment" to the peacekeeping force and Afghanistan. "NATO is working closely with President Karzai and the Afghanistan Transitional Authority to secure a better future for all the people of the country," the statement said. (AP 281038 Sep 03)


  • Kosovo's government said Saturday it will seek approval from the province's parliament before it participates in U.N.-planned talks bringing Belgrade authorities and Kosovo leaders together. Kosovo's prime minister, Bajram Rexhepi, said the government would request that the 120-member parliament decide on participation in the talks, which would be the first face-to-face meeting of representatives from Kosovo and Serbia since the 1999 war, in which Serb forces cracked down on separatist ethnic Albanians. The talks would tackle everyday issues and would not touch on the contentious issue of Kosovo's final status. A U.N. official in Pristina, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press no exact date had yet been announced, but confirmed that NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson and EU foreign affairs officials Javier Solana and Chris Patten would participate. (AP 271737 Sep 03)


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