The third day of the UN-sponsored talks on Afghanistan in Bonn began in an atmosphere of "reserved optimism". Forecasts of the most cautious analysts seem to be justifying. Before the beginning of the forum, they warned against expectations of "sensational decisions and statements" and prepared to observe careful, mostly lobby, work of the delegates. On Thursday morning, German TV singled out the opinion of a Roman Group delegation member who said that the former king Zakhir Shah must become head of the interim government as he is "the only politician who has legal rights for this high position". Local observers also focus on the statement by Yunus Kanuni, head of the United Anti-Taliban Front delegation to Bonn, that he did not rule out the possibility of deploying UN peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan. Thus, the United front has given a signal that it is ready for compromise on this moot point of the talks, Bonn experts note. Francisc Vendrell, the UN deputy special envoy to Afghanistan said the Bonn conference might drag on, although on Wednesday Yunus Kanuni said the Bonn meeting would end in three days and bring the fruit that "the Afghan nation and peoples of other countries were expecting". At the same time, according to some information, the Roman Group representatives think peacekeeping forces manned by soldiers from Muslim countries which are not neighbours of Afghanistan could be sent to this country.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced the termination of diplomatic relations with NATO at a time when US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ended a meeting in Georgia with his counterpart