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Europe

Bonn Talks Take Longer than Expected

Afghan leaders are are making every effort to finalise a power-sharing agreement at talks in Germany on Sunday. Already, the talks at the plush hotel in Germany's former capital have lasted longer than expected.

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The end is in sight. Details of the interim government are expected to be released tomorrow

Fatigued Afghan rivals and UN mediators hope to decide on who gets which job in Afghanistans post-Taliban government to be based in Kabul.

"A lot of pressure has been applied here and in Kabul and we hope that it pays off," one tired Western diplomat said. The Afghan delegates remain optimistic despite late-night debates and Ramadan fasting. Reports are saying that they can clinch a deal very soon. However, no definite date has been given.

They have agreed on appointing an interim administration of around 20 delegates. Ex-King Zahir Shah is to choose a chairman. Billions of dollars in reconstruction aid depend on the deal.

It is believed that Hamid Karzai will be appointed head of the administration. He is a prominent Pashtun tribal chief now fighting against the besieged Taliban in Kandahar. Karzai expressed interest in attending the talks as a pro-king delegate but decided against deserting his troops in battle.

The Northern Alliance, a group consisting of Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks and other minorities is distrusted by the dominant Pashtun ethnic group. It has weathered ethnic tensions in its delegation and a near split with its leader in Kabul to conclude a deal.

The Taliban were not invited to the talks. No delegates have spoken up for so-called "moderate Taliban" either: the group that Pakistan promoted in a bid to ensure Pashtuns the lion's share of the new jobs in Kabul.

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