NEW DELHI, India, Feb. 21, Reuter: Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi called on Sunday for an end to all external interference in Afghanistan following a withdrawal of Soviet troops.

Speaking as U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz began talks in Moscow which are due to include discussions of a Soviet pullout, Gandhi said he wanted to see Afghanistan distance itself from both superpowers.

“We want no interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan after the Soviet troops quit Afghanistan,” he told a meeting of his Congress (I) Party. “We want a truly nonaligned and independent government there”.

India, which is a leader of the world nonaligned movement, disclosed in January that it had become involved in behind the scenes efforts to find a peace formula for Afghanistan.

This followed a visit to New Delhi in December by Afghan President Najibullah.

Peace hopes rose earlier this month when Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev announced the Soviet Union would begin withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan in May if there was agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan by March 15.

According to Western estimates, there have been up to 115,000 Soviet troops in the country.

The United Nations talks are due to open in Geneva on March

2, but Pakistan, which supports the Afghan rebels, now insists a transaction Afghan administration must be installed before it will sign an accord

Article extracted from this publication >> February 26, 1988