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UN: Officials Call On World Powers To End Afghan Conflict

As daily life deteriorates in Afghanistan under war and poverty, two speakers at the UN summit have called on the world's powers to intervene and help end the country's crisis. RFE/RL's UN Correspondent Robert McMahon reports.

United Nations, 8 September 2000 (RFE/RL) -- The internationally recognized head of state of Afghanistan and the president of neighboring Tajikistan are urging a greater role by the world's powers in ending the Afghan conflict.

Burhanuddin Rabbani and Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov said in public forums yesterday (Thursday) that the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan will increasingly lead to world instability.

Rabbani -- whose supporters control only about 10 percent of Afghanistan -- told a press conference that Pakistan was to blame for fueling the forces of the ruling Taliban militia. He said pressure, such as sanctions, needs to be brought on Pakistan to end its support of the Taliban. He charged that support of the Taliban amounted to support for terrorism.

"This is a job for the Security Council. My demand from them would be to pay serious attention in bringing about sanctions against those countries which are helping terrorist activities in Afghanistan and creating state-sponsored terrorism in my country. As long as this is not given serious attention -- continuously and decisively -- it will be very hard indeed to remove all these terrorist training camps that are sponsored by some states. It is important to sanction those states that are helping terrorist camps in Afghanistan."

Rabbani also called on China to use its influence on Pakistan to end its support of the Taliban. He said Taliban-controlled Afghanistan had become a base for numerous groups exporting terrorism abroad, a problem that should be of concern to the international community. He cited, for example, the unrest in China's Xinjiang province, which he said can be partially traced to militants from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

Pakistan's leader General Pervez Musharraf, speaking later to reporters, defended his country's involvement with the Taliban.

"My belief is that the Taliban needs to be engaged and that whatever views the world community has against them needs to be addressed through engaging the Taliban, who happen to control 90 percent of Afghanistan."

Musharraf also downplayed concerns about religious extremism gaining influence in Pakistan.

Separately yesterday, Tajikistan's president said during his Millennium Summit address that Afghanistan has turned into a base for destabilizing its Central Asian neighbors. He urged the international community to curb the heroin trade from Afghanistan, which is the world's major source of the drug.

Rakhmonov also called on Russia and the United States to help settle the Afghan conflict. He said he was encouraged by the high-level meeting of Russian and U.S. officials last month in Washington, where a working group was established to deal with the situation in Afghanistan.

"The experience gained and the lessons drawn from the resolution of the inter-Tajik conflict indicate that the UN will be able to resolve the conflict in Afghanistan only with the active support of the world's leading powers, first and foremost, Russia and the United States, and of course with the Afghan parties to the conflict demonstrating good will."

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Thursday on the sidelines of the UN summit that he and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had agreed to push for a diplomatic solution to the Afghan conflict. He expressed concern about a lack of progress in a political settlement between the warring Afghan sides.

The UN-sponsored "Six-plus-Two" peace plan involving Afghanistan's regional neighbors has not made much progress in the past year. Meanwhile, Taliban forces have been making gains during a summer offensive in the north. Yesterday, thousands of people fled northern Afghanistan because of the intensified fighting.