Afghans offered a peace deal

Kabul (AP) - A UN official arrived in the Afghan capital yesterday with a peace plan designed to end the vicious civil war and establish a multiparty governing council.

The envoy, Mahmood Mestiri, flew into Kabul airport, reopened yesterday after having been closed for more than a year. The terminal building has been pounded by rockets and damaged and destroyed jets sit on the tarmac.

Mr Mestiri's plan calls for embattled President Burhanuddin Rabbani to step aside and for the warring factions to cooperate on a multiparty council. The council would also include prominent Afghans not linked to any of the militias.

Even if the council comes to power as planned, no one sees a smooth transition.There is still sporadic fighting in Kabul and the Taliban, a recently formed militia of religious students, has advanced to the southern outskirts of Kabul and many believe the group will try to take over the city.The group has not agreed to take part in the council.