U.S. Congressmen meet Afghan Northern Alliance reps in Berlin (update)

Now that’s something I’m not sure what to make of: The German foreign ministry confirmed today that U.S. Congressmen and representatives of the Afghan Northern Alliance have met in Berlin. As a foreign ministry spokesman officially said (here’s my quick&dirty translation, see original in German below):

The foreign ministry (Auswärtiges Amt) is aware that yesterday and today, on invitation by the Aspen Institute, representatives of the U.S. Congress and representatives of the Afghan Northern Alliance have met in Berlin. This event took place in the sole responsibility of the Berlin Aspen Institute. The German government has not been part of these talks.

At the Bonn Conference on December 5, 2011, the international community has committed itself to a political solution for Afghanistan; the peace and reconciliation process and its results have to be based on the principles laid down in article 18 of the conclusions of said conference. Based on this international consensus, the German government does not share diverging demands of conference participants.

So far, I haven’t seen any reports on the Berlin meeting – and not quite sure what this means. Maybe there’ll be some more info later…

(Here’s the original foreign office statement:

Dem AA ist bekannt, dass auf Einladung des Aspen Instituts in Berlin gestern und heute Gespräche zwischen Abgeordneten des US-Kongresses und Vertretern der afghanischen Nord-Allianz stattgefunden haben.
Die Veranstaltung wurde in eigener Verantwortung durch das Aspen-Institut Berlin vorbereitet und durchgeführt. Vertreter der Bundesregierung haben an diesem Meinungsaustausch nicht teilgenommen.
Die internationale Gemeinschaft hat sich auf der Bonner Afghanistan-Konferenz am 05. Dezember 2011 im Konsens zur Notwendigkeit einer politischen Lösung für Afghanistan bekannt, wobei der Friedens- und Versöhnungsprozess und sein Ergebnis auf den in Paragraph 18 der Konferenzschlussfolgerungen genannten Prinzipien beruhen müssen. Auf der Grundlage dieses internationalen Konsenses teilt die Bundesregierung die hiervon abweichenden Forderungen der Konferenzteilnehmer nicht.)

Update: Meanwhile, my readers are adding some info (thanks a lot!):

Here (from the comments) links to pics from a press conference with Representative Dana Rohrabacher:

Rep Loretta Sanchez, Rep Dana Rohrabacher, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Ahmad Zia Massoud, Chairman of the National Front, from left, attend a press conference after a meeting of members of U.S. congress with the Northern Alliance Leaders on Afghan Strategy in Berlin Monday, Jan. 9, 2012.

U.S. Representative Dana Rohrabacher (L) and Afghan Chairman of National Front Ahmed Zia Massoud shake hands during a news conference after talks between U.S. members of Congress and Northern Alliance representatives in Berlin January 9, 2012.

However, for the moment can’t find any news story with these pics…

Also interesting is the official reference to the Aspen Institute. Indeed there’s a conference going on in Berln, co-hosted by the Aspen Institute and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (which has close ties to Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union); on the list of speakers is the German government’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Michael Steiner. But then, neither the U.S. Congressmen nor the Northern Alliance representatives can be found on the list of participants… So the Aspen Institute seems to have chaired a separate conference at the same time? (Maybe we’ll read about it, as journalists from Der Spiegel, Deutschlandradio, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung had been invited to the Aspen/Konrad Adenauer Foundation conference…)

Update 2: Now here’s the Reuters story on this meeting.

Update 3: Rohrabacher’s web site has this info.