LONDON, April 5, (Reuter): Prime Minister Mohammad Khan Junejo, making the first official London visit by a Pakistani Premier, will seek Britain’s view on Soviet intentions to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

He was due to arrive late this afternoon (1600 GMT) for an eight day stay.

Pakistani and British officials said Junejo would ask Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who has just returned from a visit to Moscow, what sort of government the Kremlin envisages in Kabul after its troops leave.

During her talks with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev last week Thatcher discussed the war in Afghanistan, where Soviet troops intervened in 1979 and have since been embroiled in a conflict with Western backed rebels based in Pakistan.

British officials said the main issue hindering a settlement between Pakistan and the Soviet backed Kabul government was not so much when Soviet troops should withdraw but what sort of government would be left in Afghanistan when they do.

“The readout Mrs. Thatcher got during her visit is that the Soviet Union wants to get out of Afghanistan, but it wants to do that and achieve certain objectives but it cannot hope to leave behind a puppet regime”, one official told Reuters.

Junejo said in a British television interview broadcast today that the next round of U.N. mediated negotiations on Afghanistan in May could produce a breakthrough.

He confirmed that in the latest round of the talks in Geneva the Afghan government offered a time scale of 18 months for withdrawal, while the Pakistanis offered seven months.

But Junejo said the Afghan people were unlikely to accept the continued leadership of Communist Party Chief Majibullah following a Soviet withdrawal. Pakistan wanted the Afghans to choose their own government, he added.

During his visit, Junejo is also likely to be asked about reports from India and independent Western scientific groups that Islamabad has the ability to build nuclear weapons, British officials said.

Pakistani President Mohammad ZiaulHaq was quoted as saying last month that his country was capable of building a bomb. However, Junejo denied this in the television interview, saying “Frankly I’m telling you, we don’t have this (nuclear) capability’.

Article extracted from this publication >>  April 10, 1987