GENEVA, April 8, Reuter: An agreement on Afghanistan providing for the withdrawal of the estimated 115,000 Soviet troops there has been concluded and will be signed no later than April 14, U.N. mediator Diego Cordovez announced on Friday.
“The documents are now finalized and open for signature”, he told a news conference in Geneva where talks between Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Soviet Union and the United States have been going on since March 2.
“One of the points on which we have not yet an agreement is on the date for the signature”, he said, but he added: “It will not be later than the 14th”.
As well as the Soviet troop withdrawal, the settlement calls for noninterference in Afghanistan by outside parties.
But there are no provisions for a ceasefire to end the nine year old war between troops of the Soviet backed Kabul regime and Afghan. Mujahideen guerrillas.
The conflict has caused the deaths of one million Afghans and created five million refugees now living in Pakistan and Iran.
Cordovez also said all parties had agreed to push efforts to form a new Afghan government, which has been a paramount concern of the Mujahideen as well as Pakistan.
“At this crucial stage, all concerned will therefore promote the endeavors of the Afghan people to work out arrangements for a broad based government and will support and facilitate that process,” the U.N. envoy stated.
The four sides authorized the statement, he added.
The announcement by an obviously satisfied Cordovez followed statements on Thursday by the Soviet, Afghan and Pakistani leaders that obstacles to the accord had been removed.
Negotiations over the past six years had bogged down recently over a superpower dispute over the supply of military aid to their allies, but that appeared to have been resolved.
“It is not a perfect agreement, because it was worked out by human beings”, Cordovez. Said “The test of this agreement will come in its implementation and therefore | hope that people will give it a chance”.
The Soviet Union sent troops into Afghanistan in December 1979 to bolster a Marxist government under attack at the time by Islamic insurgents.
But Moscow’s involvement became costly economically and diplomatically, and since Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in March 1985 he has displayed increasing eagerness to staunch what he called a “bleeding wound”.
The Cordovez announcement left unclear whether the Soviet Union and the United States would continue to supply military aid to their allies but he said he was sure all sides would show restraint. . The agreement’s noninterference provisions had originally been understood to ban arms supplies at least to the rebels, if not to the Afghan government.
But Washington refused to cut its military aid to the guerrillas unless Moscow, in Symmetry, also stopped supplying Kabul. Diplomatic sources said the superpowers were likely to issue statements either publicly or privately giving their interpretation of the documents.
These sources said Washington had made clear that it would match the level of Soviet assistance as long as this continued but would prefer to cut supplies if Moscow also did so.
Cordovez said he was convinced all sides would in fact “exercise restraint in taking any actions which might be even deemed to be at variance with both the letter and the spirit of this agreement”.
A separate formal statement by Cordovez appeared to meet Pakistan’s request for agreement in principle to form a new Afghan government.
“It has been consistently recognized that the objective of a comprehensive settlement implies the broadest support and immediate participation of all segments of the Afghan people and that this can best be ensured by a broad based Afghan government”, he said.
Only Afghans could decide their future government, he added.
“The hope was therefore expressed that all elements of the Afghan nation, living inside and outside Afghanistan, would respond to this historic opportunity”.
Pakistan suggested during the talks that Cordovez mediate between the Afghan factions in the formation of a government and said earlier that it could not sign any agreement until progress was made towards forming a new administration.
In personal remarks, Cordovez said: “The Afghans are tired of hostilities and they don’t want any more suffering”
He added: “They deserve peace, the Afghans, and they know that and therefore there is no doubt, as I said, that they will work together to establish the peace that this settlement is intended to achieve”.