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Afghanistan: Taliban Reportedly Ready For Cease-Fire

Kabul, 21 November 1996 (RFE/RL) - The Taliban Islamic militia is reported to be ready for a ceasefire, while ousted Afghan President Bunhanuddin Rabbani claims his troops are at Kabul's gates.

Quoting a U.N. official, the AFP news agency says Taliban's commitment was made by Deputy Foreign Minister in the self-proclaimed Taliban government Sher Mohhamad Stanekzai during a meeting with senior UN official Francis Okelo. Okelo flew into Kabul yesterday to brief the Taliban on the November 18 U.N. meeting in New York, which discussed ways of putting an end to the Afghan conflict.

In Paris, ousted President Rabbani said at a news conference his forces were at the gates of Kabul, at one location only four kilometers away, but would not try to recapture it by force. Rabbani urged the Taliban to agree to a cease-fire, saying so far they refused to negotiate.

Also today, the Red Cross announced about 800 Afghan refugees had entered Turkmenistan. Spokesman Thorir Gudmundsson said an additional 18,000 could follow them, if fighting in Afghanistan continued.

Meanwhile, Pakistan announced a U.N. conference on aid to Afghanistan, scheduled in the beginning of December in Peshawar, had been shifted to Geneva because of Pakistan's objections to India's participation.