Dushanbe, 27 September 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Taliban spokesman Mavlavi Mohammad tells RFE/RL that the Taliban Islamic militia has contacted Afghan warlord General Abdul Rashid Dostum in an effort to negotiate a non-aggression agreement.
Mohammad today said that the Taliban had offered Dostum "cooperation and coordination" in future activities. But a spokesman for Dostum in Islamabad (Mavlavi Abdul Baqi) told RFE/RL this evening that Dostum is "staying in the neutral position." He said Dostum does not want to cooperate either with Rabanni or with the Taliban.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Russian border troops patrolling the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border says a 25-km security zone will remain in effect regardless of who controls Kabul. The security zone was created in a recent agreement among Russia, Tajikistan and Afghanistan's President Burhanuddin Rabbani.
With Rabbani's government fleeing Taliban forces in Kabul overnight, analysts say the nine provinces controlled by Dostum in northern Afghanistan now form a crucial buffer between Taliban Islamic fundamentalism and the former Soviet republics in Central Asia.
Dostum, a member of the Uzbek minority in Afghanistan and a former military commander during the Soviet occupation of Kabul, had attempted an abortive coup in Kabul in January 1994. Afghan Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar also had been involved in that failed coup. Hekmatyar rejoined the government as Prime Minister in June, after making a peace pact with President Rabbani.
Rabbani had attempted last week to enlist Dostum's aid against the Taliban. But Dostum is reported to have refused any assistance.