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Afghanistan: Taliban Says Foes Must Accept Their Government

Kabul, 9 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - A spokesman for Afghanistan's Taliban says ceasefire talks could be held if the opposition accepts the purist movement's Islamic government.

Amir Khan Mutaqi, the Taliban's acting Minister of Information, said today that his side is ready to talk rather than fight if the opposition recognized the Taliban government.

The former military chief of the ousted government, Ahmed Shah Masood, has offered a ceasefire and direct or indirect talks with Taliban.

Besides Masood's former government forces, the opposition also includes northern leader General Abdul Rashid Dostum, and Shia leader Karim Khalili. The alliance has demanded Kabul, overrun by the Taliban in late September, be demilitarized and a neutral security force established before any peace plan takes effect.

Meanwhile, an envoy for former Afghan president Burhanudin Rabbani said today he hopes the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) will rule in favor of his side representing the country at an OIC conference. The five-day conference opened today in the Indonesian capital Jakarta and is being attended by 53 member countries. The Afghan seat is vacant due to the fighting there.