URGENT US Rules Out Accord On Afghanistan Unless Soviets Cease Aid To Kabul Marxists
Mar. 24, 1988
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Secretary of State George P. Shultz on Wednesday night ruled out any agreement to end the 7 1/2 -year war in Afghanistan unless the Soviet Union suspends military aid to the Marxist government there.
Shultz also outlined sharp disagreements on Central America and the Middle East at the end of three days of talks with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze.
He said the Soviets wanted U.S. military aid to an unspecified number of Central American governments halted as a condition for them to stop supplying Nicaragua in its war with Contra rebels.
''It did not seem something we could pursue,'' Shultz said.
On the Middle East, he said Shevardnadze envisioned an active role for Moscow in Arab-Israeli negotiations.
Shultz said that would get in the way of talks between the two sides. ''The Soviet concept is sharply different from ours,'' Shultz said.
On human rights, however, there was apparent progress.
Shultz said Shevardnadze gave assurances that Moscow would consider changes in visa requirements for would-be emigrants and also in the way religious observances are treated.
But, at a State Department news conference, Shultz stressed the disagreements with Shevardnadze, especially over Afghanistan.
He said the foreign minister had rejected a U.S. proposal for a moratorium on new weapons shipments to Kabul while the Soviets withdrew their troops and for three months afterward.
He said the United States offered to suspend its support for the Afghan resistance during the same period.
''They didn't feel they could agree to that,'' Shultz said.
And yet, Shultz said, ''those conditions are needed for us to be able to sign as a guarantor'' of an international agreement to end the conflict.
Shevardnadze told a news conference that the Soviet Union had no intention of stopping its aid to the Afghan government.
The aid is required by a Soviet-Afghan treaty, ''those are legitimate supplies, and we are not going to rescind that treaty,'' Shevardnadze said.
He repeated statements by a Soviet spokesman last week that Moscow is willing to undertake a troop withdrawal even without an agreement at Afghan peace negotiations under way in Geneva.
But he did not give a date for withdrawal.
Shultz said the Soviets were willing to withdraw the Red Army by the end of the year, beginning with a 50 percent pullout during the first three months in which the agreement was in effect.
The guarantee of a withdrawal filled ''a great big hole'' in the situation, Shultz said.
But, he said, Soviet military aid to the Marxist government must cease for stability to return to the war-torn country and for an estimated 5 million refugees to go home.
''The proposal remains on the table,'' Shultz said. ''If our thought or something close to it is accepted we would be pleased to sign on as a guarantor.''
The negotiations are being conducted by Diego Cordovez, a United Nations mediator, between Afghanistan and Pakistan.