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Afghanistan Situation ‘Deplorable’

June 28, 2000

UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ Describing the situation in Afghanistan as ``deplorable,″ U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Tuesday that warring factions appeared to be preparing for a major offensive.

In a written report to the Security Council and General Assembly, Annan warned that the ruling Taliban militia _ which controls 90 percent of Afghanistan _ still harbors ``hopes of a military victory.″

Opposition groups who control parts of the north also believe they ``can redress the balance of power through gains on the ground,″ Annan said, appealing to both sides to return to the negotiating table.

The secretary-general welcomed the peace initiative sponsored by the Organization of the Islamic Conference and supported by neighboring Pakistan, seen as one of the main supporters of the hardline Muslim Taliban, and Iran, which is believed to support the northern-based alliance.

Although outside interference in Afghanistan continues, Annan said neighboring countries were beginning to realize that peace would better serve their national interests than supporting one of the warring factions.

But the OIC-sponsored agreement between the Taliban and the opposition groups signed in March to exchange war prisoners, refrain from attacking civilians, and ensure free access to humanitarian aid, had not been implemented, the secretary-general lamented.

He called for a comprehensive strategy to achieve a peace settlement.

Overall, ``the situation of the Afghan people remains deplorable,″ Annan said, stating that poverty in the country has been further exacerbated by the worst drought to hit the region in 30 years.

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