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Afghan-Pakistani Talks to Resume

Associated Press

Afghanistan and Pakistan have agreed to return to Geneva in June for a fourth round of U.N. talks on a political solution to the Afghan crisis, a U.N. official said Friday.

U.N. envoy Diego Cordovez said both nations want the sessions to continue, and there is a chance of progress. Cordovez has presided over three previous sessions of summer talks in Geneva on ways to end the Afghan problem. The last round was in August.

“The diplomatic process relating to Afghanistan is alive and well and it is going back to Geneva on the 19th or 20th of June,” Cordovez told a news conference.

After meetings in Islamabad and Kabul this week, Cordovez said both sides had indicated certain changes in their positions. He said he could not say what new initiatives may be discussed in Geneva or give details on what he had discussed with Pakistani and Afghan officials.

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‘Reasonably Confident’

“I am reasonably confident that the talks will be constructive and more than that, they will be fruitful,” he said.

Afghan Muslim guerrillas, operating from bases in neighboring Pakistan and supported by the United States, China and several Arab nations, are fighting to oust the Communist government of Afghanistan. The Kabul government is supported by the Soviet Union, and there are an estimated 115,000 Soviet troops fighting in Afghanistan.

Millions of refugees from Afghanistan live in camps in Pakistan.

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The talks have stalled in the past because Pakistan insists that the first step must be the withdrawal of Soviet troops. The Afghan government says Pakistan and other nations must first pledge to stop meddling in its affairs and that withdrawal of Soviet forces is a matter between Kabul and Moscow.

New Afghan Fighting

Cordovez declined to comment Friday on heavy new fighting in Afghanistan or speculate if it cast doubt on whether the two sides are interested in a solution. Soviet troops have launched a major offensive against the guerrillas in eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistani border.

The envoy welcomed news that the United States and the Soviet Union are to hold consultations in Paris in June on Afghanistan. He said the United States and the Soviet Union have both expressed support for U.N. efforts to solve the Afghan problem and their talks would help support the process.

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