"We cannot expect to make our way back through the past 23 years overnight," Qanooni, who serves as the Northern Alliance's interior minister, told reporters as he fingered prayer beads with one hand and operated his microphone with the other.
A U.N. mediator here, Francesc Vendrell, also sought to lower expectations. "The atmosphere is very good," he said. "But that doesn't mean it will always remain very good."
He said that drafting a complete list of interim Cabinet members in the next day or two is out of the question and that organizers will consider the conference a success if the parties are able to agree on a road map for moving from lawlessness to democratic rule.
He heralded the meetings in this town near the former German capital, Bonn, as a success just for having brought the rival parties together for discussions that have been calm and respectful.
Vendrell, the deputy to the U.N. special envoy for Afghanistan, conference host Lakhdar Brahimi, also indicated that the talks may last longer than the three to five days estimated at their start.
But Vendrell noted that the pressure of confinement could hasten an agreement, joking that people cooped up too long, even in a luxury villa, "start hating each other."