Rebels Assault Kunduz; Talks in Doubt

Evidence of growing rifts between Northern Alliance commanders have added pressure on the international community to arrive at an administrative solution for the war-ravaged country.

On Tuesday, representatives of various ethnic groups will meet in the German city of Bonn to hold talks on the future of Afghanistan under auspices of the United Nations. The talks were earlier scheduled for Monday, but a spokesman for Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N. special envoy for Afghanistan today said they were postponed due to logistical considerations.

Speaking on ABCNEWS' Good Morning America today, Barnett Rubin of New York University, an expert on Afghanistan, said the situation in Kunduz could play a crucial role in peace prospects in Afghanistan.

"If this ends up in a massacre where a very large number of Pashtuns are killed by Tajik and Uzbek soldiers of the Northern Alliance, it could have a poisonous effect on ethnic relations, whereas if there is a peaceful surrender, it could help with the future," said Rubin.

WFP Begins Airlifting Aid

Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation in the country continued to be grave as refugees continued to flee Kunduz. In the south, thousands of desperate refugees are risking starvation in Spin Boldak, south of Kandahar near the Chaman border crossing as international aid agencies have been unable to get humanitarian assistance into the Taliban-controlled area.

As the fierce Afghan winter threatens to isolate pockets of the war and drought-ravaged country, the World Food Program today said it had begun airlifting supplies to the mountainous northeast.

Hercules C-130 transport planes were flying in from Tajikistan in the north while food convoys were making their way from Pakistan in the south although the trucks were still not entering through the Chaman crossing.

In other developments:

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf appealed to the United Nations to help prevent the killings of Taliban fighters in Kunduz.

Pakistan has closed the Taliban embassy in Islamabad, leaving the Afghanistan regime without ties to a single nation. A spokesman for the Pakistan Foreign Ministry said the decision to close the embassy was made earlier this week. A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition says they are "delighted" with the news of Pakistan's move.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw traveled to Pakistan and met with Musharraf and U.N. Deputy Envoy Francesc Vendrell to discuss an interim government for Afghanistan.

About 5,000 French troops will be committed to the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan, a Defense Ministry spokesman said. There will be 2,450 naval and air force personnel involved in the deployment of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, due to arrive in the Indian Ocean in mid-December. So far, 2,000 French troops have been involved in logistical and intelligence support, with 300 of them taking part in security and humanitarian aid missions around Mazar-e-Sharif.

ABCNEWS' John McWethy, Jim Wooten and Don Dahler contributed to this report.

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