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Central Asia: Tajikistan Backs Pakistan's Afghan Peace Initiative

Dushanbe, 20 June 1997 (RFE/RL) - Tajikistan today voiced support for a Pakistani proposal to convene an international peace conference on Afghanistan.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub Khan, on a visit to Dushanbe, made the announcement after meeting with Tajik President Emmomali Rakhmonov.

Khan said the peace conference should be held in Islamabad under UN auspices and that warring Afghan factions should be joined by Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and China with Russia and the US as observers.

Tajik Presidential spokesman Zafar Saidov later confirmed that Rakhmonov has expressed full support for the peace conference. Saidov said Tajikistan also proposes that a ceasefire agreement, reached by warring factions "without outside interference", should be introduced in Afghanistan before the peace conference is held.

Pakistan has recognised the Taliban Islamic militia, which now controls most of Afghanistan, as the legal government. Tajikistan, along with other former Soviet Central Asian republics, has been wary of the Taliban and continues to recognise only the toppled government of former Afghan President Bunhanuddin Rabbani.