Finding another group of allies, or perhaps dividing the existing anti-Taliban coalition, might not prove very difficult. The uneasy alliance reached in Bonn this week to create an Afghan government led by Karzai has left substantial rifts.
But Rumsfeld said he hoped that the United States could come to terms with its Afghan allies.
"I don't think there will be a negotiated end to the situation that's unacceptable to the United States," he said.
Powell launched discussions in Brussels on Thursday with North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies about the new U.N.-mandated multinational force for Afghanistan. By the end of the day, he said he was impressed with the number of countries that had volunteered to participate. The force is to aid the new interim administration and help stabilize a country ravaged by 23 years of war.
But Powell also said the force may not be ready to deploy by Dec. 22. "It's not that far away, and you can't simply beam people in," Powell told a news conference. Several basic issues, including the force's leadership and mix of countries, were still under discussion, he added.
The force is expected to be made up as much as possible by troops from Muslim countries, although NATO members are also expected to contribute. U.S. troops are not likely to be part of the force but may help with logistics, communications or other specialized functions.
Karzai appeared to allow room for amnesty for Omar, if not the estimated 600 non-Afghan fighters who accompany the Taliban leader. In an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp., Karzai pledged that there would be a general amnesty for all fighters willing to lay down their arms.
Asked if that applied to Omar, Karzai said it would apply only if Omar "condemns terrorism and terrorist actions all over the world. . . . If he's ready to condemn terrorists and terrorism, I'm ready to save his life. If he doesn't, I'm sorry. He will face the consequences."
Of the non-Afghan fighters, Karzai said: "They are our enemies. They destroyed our country. If we are able to arrest them, then they will face justice according to international law."
The tentative pact calls for Omar to hand over Kandahar, along with the two neighboring provinces, to a former moujahedeen commander from Kandahar, Mullah Naquibullah. The commander would become interim governor in Kandahar, Karzai's brother and spokesman, Ahmed, said in Quetta, Pakistan. Naquibullah peacefully handed over Kandahar when the Taliban took over in 1994, and he is considered sympathetic to the movement.
'Taliban Leadership Will Be Safe,' Ex-Envoy Says
"This was a decision for the welfare of the people," Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban's former ambassador to Pakistan, told reporters in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital. Zaeef said it was his understanding that "the Taliban leadership will be safe."
The fall of Kandahar would still leave a volatile manhunt. And roads linking the Afghan capital with many of its major cities are considered virtually impassible because of bandits and Taliban fighters who have not been routed by U.S. bombing or the ground campaign by anti-Taliban forces.
The continuing dangers were underscored this week by the deaths of three U.S. soldiers. The bodies of two of the Green Berets killed Wednesday by accidental "friendly fire" were flown to a U.S. air base in Germany on Thursday.
U.S. forces have expanded their aid to opposition fighters seeking to eliminate hidden pockets of pro-Taliban fighters throughout Afghanistan. After days of bombing cave and tunnel networks believed to hide Bin Laden in the snow-capped Tora Bora region near the eastern city of Jalalabad, U.S. warplanes began supporting thousands of cave-searching opposition fighters by hammering Bin Laden's holdouts with close ground fire, said Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Afghan soldiers said they had seized a lower level of caves stocked with guns, ammunition and heavy artillery. But the soldiers came under fire from Al Qaeda squads. At least six were killed.
As many as 2,000 Al Qaeda fighters are believed to be making their last stand in the caves and trenches at Tora Bora, where Afghan commanders have reported that Bin Laden lieutenant and fellow Al Qaeda founder Ayman Zawahiri was killed. That report is still unconfirmed.
At the base of the camp, opposition fighters said they seized more than 40 pickup trucks Thursday that had belonged to Al Qaeda. In nearby caves, they discovered hundreds of crates of guns and ammunition, and pieces of heavy artillery.
Murphy reported from Quetta and Hendren from Washington. Times staff writers Tyler Marshall in Islamabad, Megan K. Stack in Jalalabad, Bob Drogin in Washington and Robin Wright in Brussels contributed to this report.