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Afghanistan: CIS Leaders Meet About Crisis; Russian Duma Calls For Embargo

Almaty, 4 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) are meeting about Afghanistan today in the Kazakh capital, Almaty. And in Moscow, Russia's State Duma adopted a statement calling for an international embargo on arms to Afghanistan.

Attending the CIS summit in Almaty are: Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin; Kazakhstan's president Nursultan Nazarbayev; the president of Kyrgyzstan, Askar Akayev; of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov; and of Tajikistan, Emomili Rakhmonov.

Foreign and defense ministers of the five countries are also attending the meeting, which is being held behind closed doors. The session was delayed by almost one hour because of Chernomyrdin's late arrival. Itar-Tass says that in the meanwhile the four presidents informally discussed the situation at the CIS southern borders and started working out a common approach on the issue.

The French Agence France Presse news agency quoted Rakhmonov's spokesman, Zafar Saidov, as saying that the summit will "take steps to reinforce the defense of the CIS's southern frontiers, especially Tajikistan's," in the light of the latest developments in Afghanistan.

The summit of CIS leaders was called by Russian President Boris Yeltsin to discuss the possible impact of the fall of the Afghan capital Kabul to the Islamic Taliban militia.

Russian officials warned this week that the Taliban takeover of most of Afghanistan could destabilize the whole of Central Asia and pose a threat to Russia's national security.

Meanwhile, in Moscow, Russia's State Duma today adopted a statement expressing its deep concern over what it called the intensification of the military and political crisis in Afghanistan.

Itar-Tass reports that the statement calls for an international embargo on arms supplies to war-torn Afghanistan, a freezing of Afghan state accounts in foreign banks and for the establishment of an air blockade on Afghanistan. It is not clear whether the proposed air blockade would also include commercial airlines.

"The worsening of the situation in this part of Asia directly affects Russia's national security interests," said the statement.

In the statement, the Duma also called on the United Nation's Security Council and on other international organizations to intensify efforts aimed at a settlement of the Afghan crisis.

The Duma's statement comes as a special summit of CIS leaders in the Kazakh capital, Almaty, is to discuss today the situation in Afghanistan and its implications for central Asia and Russia.