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Zia Hopeful of Afghan Talks; Karmal to Visit Moscow

February 23, 1986

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) _ President Mohammed Zia ul-Haq said Sunday that he hopes talks set for next month in Geneva could lead to the withdrawal of some 115,000 Soviet military personnel from Afghanistan.

Some three million Afghan refugees have entered Pakistan and 1.8 million fled into Iran after Soviet troops intervened in Afghanistan in December 1979 to help the Marxist government battle anti-communist rebels.

Meanwhile, Afghan President Babrak Karmal flew Sunday to Moscow, the state- owned Radio Kabul reported.

In a newscast monitored here, the radio said that while in Moscow Karmal will attend the twenty-seventh Congress of the Soviet Communist Party.

The United Nations is overseeing the Geneva talks on the Afghan war. Since 1982, there have been six rounds of unsuccessful talks, the last in December 1985.

The Soviets have refused to withdraw their troops, saying that Western and Pakistani assistance to the rebels must end as part of any deal.

″I have every hope that some headway will be made on the Afghan issue in the forthcoming round of indirect Geneva talks,″ Zia told municipal officials at Sibi, 400 miles southwest of Islamabad.

″Pakistan will not compromise on principles with regard to the Afghan issue,″ Zia said. ″We want good neighborly relations with the Soviet Union, and our principled stand on Afghanistan cannot be perceived as hostile to Moscow.″

In another development, Pakistan and the United States will discuss possible increased U.S. economic assistance and military sales credits this week in Washington, Finance Minister Mohammed Yasin Wattoo said.

Wattoo said shortly before his departure for Washington that he hoped ″the next package will be substantially higher than the present one.″

The Reagan administration gave Pakistan $3.2 billion, half in economic assistance and half in military sales credits, for the 1982-87 period. Wattoo is to negotiate funds for beyond 1987.

The 1982-87 U.S. assistance was meant to improve the Pakistani economy and boost its defenses in the wake of the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s western neighbor.

The U.S. military supplies are being used to update and strengthen Pakistani ground forces as well as the air force. The centerpiece of the weapon supplies was the sale of 40 advanced F-16 warplanes.

″Pakistan-U.S. relations have evolved in a satisfactory manner during the last five years,″ Wattoo said. ″We would like these relations to continue and, in fact, develop further.″