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    Kabul hits out at Berlin meeting

    KABUL (PAN): Afghanistan on Tuesday took strong exception to a meeting of Afghan political figures with US lawmakers in Berlin, the capital of Germany.

    Ex-vice president Ahmad Zia Masoud, Junbish-i-Millie party chief Abdul Rashid Dostum and Hezb-i-Wahdat leader Mohammad Mohaqiq were urged by a US congressman to initiate efforts for a federal system in Afghanistan.

    In a joint statement, the leaders said they had a meeting with a number of US congressmen who believed the presidential form of government had resulted in numerous problems. They were asked to work for a decentralised and pluralistic regime.

    The foreign ministry in Kabul said the government considered a foreign role in this regard as plain interference in Afghanistan's internal affairs. It insisted "such actions" should not be repeated.

    Without naming anyone, a statement from the ministry said some Afghans had participated in the meeting hosted by the Aspen Institute, an international think tank providing a place to exchange ideas about leadership and contemporary issues.

    Meanwhile, the American embassy in Kabul said that it reaffirmed the long-standing support of the United States for a unified Afghanistan based on the Afghan Constitution. 

    "Any assertions to the contrary are entirely without foundation" a statement from the embassy said, adding reconciliation and political process in Afghanistan were led by the elected government. 

    The Aspen Institute is a not-for-profit organisation that holds seminars and conferences, emphasising a non-partisan and non-ideological setting. Equity in public education, ethical leadership practices and global security are among the issues the institute has addressed.

    frm/mud