9 April 1996


9 April 1996

Press Release


19960409 Representative, Broad-based 'Authoritative Council', Role of OIC, Work of UN Special Mission Stressed as Elements of Peaceful Settlement

Foreign intervention in Afghanistan was thwarting international efforts to achieve a negotiated settlement to the conflict in that country, several speakers told the Security Council today in two meeting on the Afghan situation. Support was expressed for an international conference to address the problem of political and military interference, including the flow of arms into Afghanistan and prevent the conflict from affecting other regions of the world. The country's instability had also made it a breeding ground for international terrorism and a source of illicit narcotics, others noted. Many speakers, however, stressed that the Afghan factions were primarily responsible for reconciling their differences and called on them to cooperate with United Nations efforts to end the fighting which had devastated the country. Many representative supported the Secretary-General's proposal for the establishment of a fully representative, broad-based "authoritative council", through a peaceful dialogue among the Afghans, as the most appropriate way to achieve a lasting settlement. They also supported the United Nations Special Mission for Afghanistan -- led by Mahmoud Mestiri -- which is trying to help national reconciliation and reconstruction. The Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan told the Council that an end to blatant intervention would help the United Nations solve the conflict. However, the Special Mission had failed to explicitly identify foreign interference as the root cause of the conflict and to recommend effective measures to terminate it. He said that since 1992 forces linked to Pakistani military intelligence, sometimes in connivance with other outside supporters, had been trying to overthrow his Government. Pakistan had created mercenaries called the Taliban who were sent inside Afghanistan along with Pakistani intelligence officers and frontier militia. The political and social agenda of the Taliban was far from the genuine principles of Islam. The cultivation, processing and trafficking of narcotics had increased dramatically in areas held by the Taliban, he added. The representative of Pakistan said much of the strife in Afghanistan could be attributed to the absence of legitimate governance which did not flow

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from the use of weapons. Allegations against Pakistan were an attempt to cover up the massive weapon supplies from certain quarters or to explain away the untenable situation in which those factions found themselves, due to a complete lack of popular support from the Afghan people.

He went on to say that the Taliban controlled more than half the country and were locked in a struggle with the nominal central authority which controlled only five out of 32 provinces. He said an international conference would be premature and proposed the holding of a dialogue between different factions under the auspices of the United Nations or Friends of Afghanistan.

The representative of the United Kingdom expressed concern that 70 per cent of Europe's heroin came from Afghanistan and the country was increasingly being used to train terrorists whose activities had consequences far beyond the country's borders. The representative of the United States stressed that, contrary to media reports, his Government favoured none of the factions, movements or individuals currently vying for power in Afghanistan, nor did it supply weapons or other support. The representative of the Russian Federation said that, despite appeals, the Taliban fighters continued to hold a Russian crew, and their continued detention was unacceptable.

Other statements were made by the representatives of China, Indonesia, Botswana, Poland, Egypt, Republic of Korea, Honduras, France, Italy, Germany, Chile, Iran, Japan, Argentina, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Malaysia and India. The Observer for the Organization of the Islamic Conference also spoke.

The first meeting, which started at 11:38 a.m., was adjourned at 1:06 p.m. The second meeting, which started at 3:33 p.m., was adjourned at 6:54 p.m. In a report to the General Assembly on the progress of the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan, the Secretary-General said the United Nations Special Mission had assessed that the military option was still preferred by the main warring parties. The United Nations Special Mission resumed its activities on 12 January 1996 when the Head of the Mission, Mahmoud Mestiri, arrived in the region with the renewed mandate of the Assembly. Escalating foreign interference by countries in the region and beyond, often through active support of one faction or another, complicated the peace process and fuelled the machinery for war. The military race was on for the control of Kabul. Afghanistan remained under the military control of three major forces: the government in Kabul and five other provinces in the north- eastern part of the country; Taliban in 14 provinces in the southern, south- eastern and south-western parts; and General Rashid Dostum's faction in six provinces in the northern part.

Situation in Afghanistan

The Security Council meets this morning to consider the situation in Afghanistan.


ABDUL-RAHIM GHAFOORZAI, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, said Afghanistan had been looking for an opportunity to have the voice of the Afghans heard by the Council. It would like to submit to the Council questions as to why the people of Afghanistan were once again exposed to a conspiracy and foreign military intervention, and why civilian population, especially of Kabul, was constantly under inhuman rocketing and sometimes aerial bombardment by the mercenaries called Taliban, causing deaths, injuries and destruction.

He said Afghanistan had contributed to the ending of the cold war and further strengthening of a framework of a world order based on democracy and human rights. It deserved sympathy from the world community and should be supported in its national endeavours to overcome problems left by 17 years of war and the challenges the country encountered on its reconstruction.

Over the last four years, conspirators and interventionists, linked to Pakistani military intelligence circles, sometimes in connivance with other outside supporters, had been attempting to overthrow the Government of the Islamic State of Afghanistan and to enthrone a Pakistani-approved regime in Kabul, he continued. That hostile scheme had given rise to a renewed widespread Afghan resistance, while creating legitimate concern of the countries of the region. The identification of the root causes of the conflict was an indispensable prerequisite for a genuine search for a lasting and comprehensive solution.

Since the establishment in April 1992 of the Islamic State of Afghanistan, Pakistani military intelligence circles had supported and provoked their stooges to seize power in Kabul, he continued. That conspiracy had caused vast devastations and human losses. The inter-Afghan dialogues were sabotaged. The world witnessed the abortive coup attempt of 1 January 1994 against the Islamic State of Afghanistan, by armed groups some of them quartered on Pakistani soil. During the coup, more than 3,000 rockets were showered on the innocent inhabitants of Kabul and on residential targets in the city. Those acts took over 4,000 lives, and wounded 8,000 people, mostly women and children. In that abortive coup attempt, Pakistani military and intelligence elements had been physically involved. The Government had captured 25 Pakistani heavily armed militia; they had been later released.

He added that the Pakistan military intelligence, coupled with the Pakistan Ministry of the Interior, created a group of mercenaraies called

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Taliban in September 1994. They were trained in Quetta, Pakistan, and sent inside Afghanistan along with Pakistani intelligence officers and frontier militia.

Also, on 5 November 1995, the Foreign Minister of Pakistan "paid a sudden visit" to Mazar-i-Sharif in the northern province of Balkh of Afghanistan, for "negotiation with Abdul-Rashid Dostum, a military leader of the opposition. The visit had taken place without any prior information sent to the Afghan Government. He then went on to cite other instances of Pakistan's involvement which, he said, had been widely reported.

No consideration of the situation in Afghanistan could be an in-depth one, without a realistic analysis of the newly emerged group called "the Taliban", meaning "students of religious schools", and their political and social agenda, he said. The Taliban claimed that they wanted to implement "the Islamic teachings". Unfortunately, their conception of the Islamic precepts was far from the genuine principles of Islam.

The most dangerous precept of the Taliban was to forbid girls and women from going out of their houses, he continued. Women were not allowed to work anywhere outside their homes. Education for women were not available in several cities. "These cities were condemned by Taliban rule to maintain their female populations in darkness and ignorance and even be deprived of Islamic knowledge taught in women's schools throughout Afghanistan." The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and many non-governmental organizations had discontinued their operation in areas under the military occupation of the Taliban. He said the situation was completely different in the areas under the Government's administration. That had been reported by the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights for Afghanistan. Women were actively participating in the political, social and economic life of the country.

The cultivation, processing and trafficking of narcotics in Afghanistan was dreadfully widening with the rule of the Taliban and had taken dangerous dimensions, he continued. Poppy cultivation in areas held by the Taliban had dramatically increased. "With the support of the politico-military mafia of the adjacent country", the Taliban had been able to get portable drug processing and refining machines that even produced morphine and heroin. According to a report in the last five months, more than 200 tons of narcotic had been exported from Afghanistan from the areas controlled by the Taliban. As a result, the Taliban had an additional source of income to continue their military operations.

It had been estimated that, since the emergence of the Taliban, more than $2 billion had been channelled through and by Pakistani intelligence circles to that group.

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On the ongoing peace process in Afghanistan and the contribution of the United Nations Special Mission to it, he said his Government was committed to cooperating with the Mission in order to enable it to succeed in accomplishing its mandate. It was on the basis of such a commitment that some shortcomings in the endeavours of the Special Mission had to be pointed out. Expressing the hope that the shortcomings would be remedied soon, he said there had been failures to explicitly identify foreign interference as the root cause of the conflict and to recommend effective measures to terminate it; to identify and observe a logical sequence of the stages of the peace process, on a pragmatic basis, which should include a transitional period required for a political process to generate an overall negotiated settlement; and to adequately identify the true nature of the mercenaries, called Taliban, at the time of their emergence in September 1994, and subsequently to reveal their well-known foreign linkage.

The Mission needed to maintain its strict impartiality, he said. Generally, the continuous contacts and delicate negotiations with the main actors led to a formal agreement among the parties, which usually included two chapters, political and military. The political chapter included agreements on immediate cease-fire, structure of power during the transitional period, transfer of power, electoral law, holding of elections and adoption of a constitution. The military chapter of such an agreement generally dealt with disengagements and the demobilization of irregular forces, and building of a national security force. It was this understanding that the United Nations, as an honest broker, after securing a genuine positive national environment conducive to peace, would develop a pragmatical approach to ensure an overall agreement and to supervise its implementation.

However, in Afghanistan, it seemed that the United Nations Special Mission, in the absence of a political agreement and of due consideration of imperative elements and factors to a peaceful political process, had been only emphasizing on one element, the "transfer of power", he said. That approach might give one the impression that the Mission had lost sight of other major elements for a durable and credible political settlement.

The failure of the Special Mission to identify the actual stumbling block had always been one of the causes of delaying the momentum of the peace process. For instance, Taliban leaders on different occasions had castigated the United Nations role in Afghanistan as "futile and vain". They had also rejected any form of negotiation with the Government. The absence of the Taliban from negotiation was because the group had fire-power, constantly provided to them by the Pakistani intelligence circles. He cited examples of Taliban's use of force.

He said it was not necessarily the intention of the Islamic State of Afghanistan to advocate an antagonistic attitude towards the Central Government and the people of Pakistan. The foreign policy of Afghanistan

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firmly required a sincere friendship and cooperation with all States and the neighbouring countries. Afghanistan, together with Pakistan, could play a significant role of strengthening and broadening the cooperation between all the countries in the economic, as well as cultural, fields.

The Pakistani circles had long accused his Government of receiving military assistance from certain countries, he said. Afghanistan, as a sovereign State, reserved its legitimate right to seek assistance from any country. Despite the hardships emanating from the foreign conspiracies, Afghanistan had not entered into any commitment which would pose a threat to the national security of the countries in the region or to jeopardize, in any way, the non-aligned status of Afghanistan.

An end to blatant interventions would pave the ground in which peaceful endeavours of the United Nations Special Mission would bring about a far- reaching and just solution to the destructive conflict in Afghanistan, he continued. The Afghan and Pakistan Governments should start serious dialogue and negotiation for the restoration of mutual trust and cooperation for an atmosphere conducive to the restoration of peace in Afghanistan.

He said the Council should consider establishment of a United Nations monitoring post along the southern border point of Speen Boldak between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The monitoring post would ensure halting the flow of illicit arms and ammunition inside Afghanistan to the hands of the Taliban mercenaries. It should also consider the assignment by the United Nations of a fact-finding mission to the Taliban-occupied provinces in Afghanistan in order to observe the magnitude of the Pakistani military intervention in the internal affairs of Afghanistan; investigate the cultivation, processing and illicit trafficking of narcotics in the Taliban-occupied areas; verify the reports of human rights violations, specifically of women in the Taliban- occupied areas; and to study and evaluate the situation in the Taliban- controlled areas concerning institutionalized criminal and terrorist activities.

HUASUN QIN (China) said the situation in Afghanistan was a threat to the region's stability. The crux of the problem was the lack of even a minimum of trust between the different factions. However, interference by foreign interests had complicated the conflict. In order to achieve a peace, the factions must first implement a cease-fire.

His Government hoped that, with the assistance of the United Nations, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and concerned neighbouring countries, Afghanistan would achieve a good solution which was not hampered by ethnic differences. Afghanistan was China's neighbour, and his Government had always supported the country in its efforts to achieve its national sovereignty. But after the withdrawal of foreign troops, the problem in the country had become essentially a domestic one.

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His Government supported the efforts of the United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference and hoped all countries would support relevant United Nations resolutions, respect Afghanistan's territorial integrity and would help it to reconstruct peace and stability.

NUGROHO WISNUMURTI (Indonesia) said it was with deepening concern that Indonesia had witnessed the continuing armed hostilities in Afghanistan, in which hundreds of thousands of people had been killed, maimed, disabled or displaced. Factionalism and ethnic divides threatened to fragment the country permanently. Further compounding the situation was the coincidence of acute humanitarian conditions, with a virtual deadlock in the endeavours to seek a political solution for ending the tragic crisis. Hence, the gravity of the situation could not be overemphasized, not only for the people of Afghanistan, but also for its ramification in the region and beyond.

He welcomed the renewed efforts undertaken by the Secretary-General, including the dispatch of Ambassador Mahmoud Mestiri as Head of the Special Mission to the region and his proposal for the establishment of a forum or mechanism representing the various warring factions, to which power would be transferred. Such a modality would also constitute a critical component in resolving other contentious issues, such as the establishment of an interim government, security and the demilitarization of Kabul. Those were essential first steps towards the restoration of normality throughout Afghanistan.

It was, however, regrettable, he said, that the leaders of various factions had failed to set aside their differences in the broader interests of their people and to demonstrate political will and a genuine desire for peace. Consequently, the risk of a renewed major confrontation among the contending forces, with its attendant destructive effects on the civilian population, remained a distinct possibility. The situation was further aggravated by external interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan, which had immeasurably complicated efforts to restore peace and stability. The Presidential statement of last February had fully reflected the genuine concern of the Security Council and had called upon the parties concerned to end hostilities and to lift the blockade of Kabul to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid and other needed supplies for the beleaguered population. His delegation had also associated itself with the Council's support for the efforts of the United Nations Special Mission in Afghanistan, which offered the only hope for ending bloodshed through the establishment of a broadly based transitional government that was acceptable to the Afghan people.

He underscored the proposals that were advanced at the twenty-third Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers held in Conakry, last December. In particular, he fully agreed that the time had come for the launching of a credible Afghan dialogue to restore peace and stability and to revive the political, economic, social and institutional infrastructure of the Afghan society. To achieve the goal of lasting peace and tranquillity, he called

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upon the parties concerned to extend their full and unstinted cooperation to all personnel engaged in humanitarian aid, in full conformity with the precepts of international humanitarian law. He appealed to all States to refrain from engaging in activities that would hamstring the ongoing endeavours for a peaceful solution, especially in preventing the flow of weapons to the parties in conflict. He would also encourage regional endeavours in assisting and augmenting the peace process.

While those endeavours had, in the past, met with setbacks, he said the Council should none the less be steadfast in its determination to overcome the fratricidal aspects of the conflict, which alone would facilitate progress towards peace. However, the cornerstone of the edifice for peace must necessarily rest on the development of an intra-Afghan mechanism. While he hoped that the Council and the Secretary-General would remain actively engaged in assisting the parties to achieve national reconciliation, he said the ultimate responsibility for peace resided with the leaders of Afghanistan. It was up to them to resolve differences in a peaceful and democratic manner. He did not, however, support the imposition of peace, as that would violate the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Afghanistan to which Indonesia was committed. A lasting peace could only result from the determination of the parties concerned to engage in a constructive dialogue based on compromise and cooperation.

EDWARD W. GNEHM, JR. (United States) said his Government supported the peace efforts of the Head of the Untied Nations Special Mission, Mahmoud Mestiri, who was now back in the region seeking reconciliation between the major factions. The movement of Mr. Mestiri's mission to Jalalabad was a very positive step, which should help facilitate closer and more frequent contacts with the various groups. The vast majority of Afghans wanted moderation, not extremism. They and the Council wanted a broadly supported, capable central government in Kabul that would begin rebuilding he country, the economy, the infrastructure, and the educational and judicial systems.

He stressed that the United States favoured none of the factions, movements or individuals currently vying for power in Afghanistan, noting the many erroneous media reports about it. It did not supply weapons or other military or financial support to any factions or movements. Although the United States did not support any particular group, it had continued to provide the Afghanistan people with humanitarian assistance that was largely channelled through United Nations agencies and private voluntary organizations. The aid had been mainly targeted for refugee care and repatriation and to support demining operations. Some very limited funding went for anti-narcotics efforts. Since 1989, the United States had provided some $700 million in humanitarian assistance, including nearly $50 million last year.

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Neither the Security Council, the United Nations nor the international community could create peace in Afghanistan, he continued. Only when the parties had the political will to make peace, to end the war, would Afghanistan be able to build its way to stability and reconciliation. He called upon all the Afghan factions and the outside parties that supported them with funds and weapons to realize the futility of continuing the conflict. A military solution would not provide a lasting peace. Many Afghan men took up arms only because they had no other way to support their families. It was imperative, therefore, that the armed factions made a serious commitment to speak directly to their enemies. Rebuilding could not begin until there was true peace.

There were a number of ideas to achieve the desired end in Afghanistan, he continued. Each one required the political will of he various factions. His Government wanted to work closely with other countries to explore what more the United Nations could do to bring about a lasting peace. He called on all outside parties to desist from providing weapons or any other assistance to the armed factions.

Several countries were considering an arms embargo on Afghanistan, which was worth exploring further, if it could be effectively implemented, he said. Prospects for convening a conference on Afghanistan that could help accelerate the peace process should be discussed. It was essential to create a forum in which the legitimate aspirations of the vast majority of the Afghan people could be expressed and where a mechanism for governing could be established.

Sir JOHN WESTON (United Kingdom) said the tragic humanitarian situation, especially in Kabul, had caused all Security Council members to look with renewed determination at the problems of Afghanistan. The international community had a duty to do all it could. The United Kingdom continued to provide assistance. It had spent more than £100 million on humanitarian aid since 1980.

The concern was not just a humanitarian one, he continued. Countries such as the United Kingdom had a real and increasing interest in an Afghanistan at peace with itself. Seventy per cent of Europe's heroin came from Afghanistan. The territory of Afghanistan was increasingly used to train terrorists whose activities had consequences far beyond that country's borders. An unstable Afghanistan represented a threat to the stability of a region which was of great importance. Unfortunately, no solution was in sight. No amount of international pressure would compensate for a lack of commitment by the parties within Afghanistan. The United Nations remained the best hope for progress.

The Special Mission headed by Mr. Mestiri was faced with an extremely challenging task, he said. He supported his efforts. Mr. Mestiri had recently returned to the region and he welcomed that new impetus. He

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supported the Secretary-General's intention to strengthen the mission within existing resources. He agreed with the Secretary-General's conclusion in his report on Afghanistan that it might be necessary to explore additional ways and means to facilitate the realization of a lasting settlement and peace. He also looked forward to hearing more about the proposal for an international conference and how that might play a useful role in forging a durable peace. Clearly, the time would have to be right and the agenda clear, if such a meeting was to play a positive role.

He expressed particular concern at the Secretary-General's assessment that foreign interference by countries in the region and beyond, both military and political, had been increasing. There was no excuse for that. "We need to look carefully for ways to prevent further interference", he said. "We call again for the end to the disastrous flow of weapons into Afghanistan. Peace cannot be won by force of arms. Peace can only be won when the arms are laid down and Afghans themselves accept that reconciliation is the only way forward."

LEGWAILA J.M.J. LEGWAILA (Botswana) said the human tragedy that was Afghanistan was further compounded by the unyielding determination of the parties to resolve their differences by force. The crises in Afghanistan, like others elsewhere, could not be resolved by the use of force. He appealed to the leaders to refrain from taking any further military initiatives and begin the process of negotiation for a political settlement. They should realize that the ultimate responsibility for peace and national reconciliation, or continued war and destruction, in Afghanistan rested with nobody but themselves.

What the ordinary Afghans needed most today was a peaceful and stable country in which they could be afforded an opportunity to rebuild their shattered lives, he said. "They do not need guns and still more guns to slaughter more and more of their own people." They needed the support and encouragement of the international community, especially the neighbouring countries, to start a new process of negotiation to find a durable political solution to the crisis in their country. Given the right political atmosphere, the people of Afghanistan were capable of mustering adequate political will to negotiate agreements and, for that, they looked to their neighbours for statesmanship and political guidance. Unfortunately, their neighbours were as divided over the crisis in Afghanistan as were the Afghans themselves and had chosen to support one or the other of the Afghan factions instead of reconciling them. The factions were being trained and armed by the neighbouring countries who seemed indifferent to the human tragedy being fuelled by their actions. They should refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of Afghanistan and cease the supply of arms to that country.

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There were other dimensions to the Afghan conflict which deserved to be mentioned, he continued. The use of the territory of Afghanistan for the illicit trade in drugs and the fact that there would be no easy solutions to the inter-Tajik conflict so long as Afghanistan was at war with itself were cases in point. It was for all those reasons that his delegation believed the United Nation should have creatively responded to the situation in Afghanistan much earlier. It was time the United Nations broke the vicious circle of reacting to conflicts after they had degenerated into unmanageable bitter-end civil wars. It was clear from the beginning that the neighbouring States were not going to cooperate to find a lasting solution to the Afghan crisis, and the Security Council should have moved with speed to establish a confidence- restoration mission in Afghanistan when the prospects for holding general elections, in accordance with the Islamabad Accord, had become bleak. At that point, positions had not yet hardened and the consent of the factions would not have been difficult to attain and trust and confidence could have been restored with ease. He expressed the hope that a cease-fire could still be established in Afghanistan which the United Nations could follow up by the dispatch of a fact-finding mission to review the situation and recommend the feasibility or otherwise of establishing a visible United Nations presence in the country, however limited in scope, he said. The purpose of such a United Nations presence would be to help the Afghans prepare and hold general elections and, thus, avoid the repetition of the events which led to the present crisis. A general arms embargo would be put in place throughout the territory of Afghanistan prior to the elections. The neighbouring States would have to be strongly persuaded to observe the provisions of the arms embargo for the sake of the peace in Afghanistan.

Any solution which did not include the establishment of a cease-fire and negotiations for a new political dispensation would be unrealistic, he continued. In short, there could be no excuse for failure to respond to the tragic situation. The success of the United Nations in maintaining international peace and security depended, to a large extent, on its ability to respond creatively and meaningfully to all crisis situations at every stage of their development. Doing nothing was the only option that should be excluded in the search for solutions to crises.

The meeting was adjourned at 1:05 p.m.

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When the second meeting on Afghanistan convened at 3:33 p.m., ZBIGNIEW M. WLOSOWICZ (Poland) said that the situation in Afghanistan was a serious threat to international security and especially to the stability in the region of central Asia. Without normalization of the situation in that country, it would be impossible to defuse tensions that persisted around its perimeter. The legacy of war continued to haunt the faction-ridden people of Afghanistan. The warring parties had not renounced armed hostilities, and the situation continued to be extremely volatile, especially around Kabul.

Only dialogue and political negotiations could enable Afghans to overcome their problems, he continued. The warring parties should renounce violence and end the civil war ravaging their country. "We are against any political and military intervention by outside forces into the internal affairs of Afghanistan", he added.

Only genuine national reconciliation and respect for the interests of all ethnic and religious groups of the country and the long tradition of statehood could provide the real basis for a peaceful settlement of the conflict, he said. The international community could actively help the Afghan people achieve their peaceful goals. In that regard, Poland was ready to take part in efforts to reconstruct Afghanistan. "Since the poly-ethnic, multi- national Afghanistan needs the cessation of the civil war and national reconciliation, Poland supports international efforts -- including those made within the framework of the United Nations -- to achieve these goals", he said. An international conference should be considered.

NABIL ELARABY (Egypt) said that the efforts of the United Nations in seeking peace and in the humanitarian efforts deserved commendation. He appreciated the role of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and its Secretary-General in supporting the efforts towards peace.

A careful reading of the report of the Secretary-General and the speech of the Vice-Minister of Afghanistan would cast further doubt about the prospects for peace and emphasize the failure of the parties to start dialogue. He was concerned at preparations for new rounds of battles around Kabul.

The increased foreign interference was complicating matters. The cessation of such interferences would create an atmosphere that would help promote peace. Egypt supported the establishment of a fully representative and broad-based mechanism to achieve peace. It would help start a cease-fire, set up security and collect arms, and form an acceptable provisional government pending the holding of free and fair elections. The implementation of the mechanism could stop the civil war. The main obstacle was finding a means to bring the parties to accept peace in a way that would support the general interests of Afghanistan.

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The conflict threatened the stability of that region and beyond, he said. The instability provided fertile ground for terrorism, arms transfers and drug trafficking. Clear steps should be adopted to halt the spread of those negative effects to other parts of the world.

An international conference on the situation in Afghanistan deserved careful consideration. Other crises had been solved through a similar forum. The consuming of such a conference would require careful preparation. In that regard, he welcomed the movement of the Mission to Jalalabad.

Political will was necessary to solve the problem. The parties needed it to overcome the momentum towards armed conflict. Neighbours needed political will to help solve the problems of Afghanistan. Political will was needed from the international community to help the peace process, also. all efforts could be coordinated by the Special Mission. The Security Council should take concrete steps to provide more impetus for the efforts to resolve the conflict in Afghanistan, he concluded.

SERGEY V. LAVROV (Russian Federation) said the conflict in Afghanistan represented a threat to international peace and security and was a humanitarian tragedy. Political settlement was not regarded as a solution by the parties, although a military solution could not be achieved. Everything should be done to end the conflict, he said. The United Nations should stand by its position regarding the independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan. The Russian Federation was interested in ensuring that Afghan territory was not used to undermine neighbouring States such as Tajikistan.

He said that despite appeals, the Taliban fighters continued to hold a Russian crew. Their continued detention was unacceptable, and he hoped they would be released. He said the United Nations should play a central role in the search for a solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. In principle, the Russian Federation supported the idea of an international conference on Afghanistan. The prior consent of the Afghan people should be sought if the conference was to succeed. He called for cooperation of the international community in the search for a solution to the conflict in Afghanistan.

PARK SOO GIL (Republic of Korea) said the situation in Afghanistan clearly warranted the Council's continued concern, given the unabated hostilities among the warring factions, the worsening humanitarian conditions, the country's geopolitical significance, and the potential impact on international peace and security. His Government was particularly concerned by reports that most of the warring factions were still not genuinely interested in peaceful, political negotiation, but sought a military upper hand at the cost of thousands of lives and terrible economic and social consequences. The reported military preparations by the Government and the Taliban for a major battle over the control of Kabul were especially disturbing.

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As well as having a direct impact on the people and the country, continued fighting and a persistent anarchic environment over such a long period would also further criminal activities, such as international terrorism and illicit trafficking in arms and narcotics which would undermine the stability of the region and beyond. He noted Mr. Mestiri's continued leadership and his vital role in pursuing national reconciliation and reconstruction and said his extensive consultations with Afghan factional leaders, as well as senior officials of other interested governments, should be encouraged.

Reiterating his Government's support for a strengthened role by the United Nations Special Mission, he strongly urged the Afghan parties to cooperate fully with the Mission, lay down their arms and join in peaceful dialogue to establish a fully representative and broad-based authoritative council without delay. International agencies, particularly the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), had played an outstanding role and provided essential humanitarian relief to the civilian population under trying circumstances. He urged the parties not to hinder the movement of vital humanitarian supplies.

The escalating foreign interference in Afghan affairs was a major concern. The military and political interference only complicated the peace process and intensified the animosity among warring factions. The problem should be addressed at the international level and the convening of an international conference deserved further attention, he added.

GERARDO MARTINEZ BLANCO (Honduras) said the prospects for peace seemed further away due to the Afghan leaders' insistence on the use of force. He expressed concern at the heightened preparations by Taliban to attack Kabul and overthrow President Burhanuddin Rabbani. The parties must enter into dialogue to pursue peace. Interference in its internal affairs and violations of its sovereignty should be stopped. The transfer of arms must also be stopped.

The situation of human rights was deteriorating, with reports of torture, the rape of women and the disappearance of people, he continued. The international community must not permit the political situation in Afghanistan to allow human rights to continue to deteriorate. The Government should abide by international humanitarian law. There was a need to fulfil the aims of General Assembly resolutions on the need to stop arms trafficking into that nation. The parties should cooperate with the United Nations to foster peace.

ALAIN DEJAMMET (France) said the situation in Afghanistan had deteriorated since the Council last considered the matter. There could be no possible military solution to the conflict. The Council should reiterate its position made last February. Free access should be provided for humanitarian

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assistance to the country, particularly Kabul. He paid tribute to humanitarian workers, some of whom were French.

He noted that the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mahmoud Mestiri, had made effort to promote dialogue and was currently in the country. It was essential that the Council reiterated its support for the efforts of Mr. Mestiri in fostering dialogue. All segments of the country favoured dialogue as a means for return to peace.

None of those segments should be excluded from dialogue, he said, adding that the Council should make that clear. He said dialogue was a prerequisite if the independence and territorial integrity of the country, its stability and that of the entire region were to be ensured.

FRANCESCO PAOLO FULCI (Italy) said Italy continued to fully support the patient work of mediation of the Special Representative of the Secretary- General, Mr. Mestiri. He recalled the similar statement of support for Mr. Mestiri recently issued by the European Union. His task was not easy, but his recent return to the region, with the assistance of some new advisers, augured well. However, the last word should go to the Afghan parties themselves. Unless they showed the specific will to end the conflict, and to replace the logic of force with the logic of peace and dialogue, any efforts at mediation would be useless. He appealed to them to collaborate on the creation of an adequate mechanism for the transfer of power, in the form of "a fully representative and broad-based authoritative council", as observed in General Assembly resolution A/50/88. The Secretary-General suggested that an international conference on Afghanistan could be conducive to that goal. The Italian delegation supported him on that account.

The Secretary-General's report called the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan very serious, if not alarming, he said. The international community must intervene. With its recent declaration, the European Union had also urged all the parties directly concerned to end the hostilities immediately and allow the free distribution of humanitarian aid to the Afghan civil population. Another question of fundamental importance was economic rehabilitation and reconstruction. However, the flow of international aid to reconstruct and to relaunch the economy could not begin without a solid and credible political agreement opening up reasonable prospects for the return of peace. For the international community, it was equally important that there be renewed respect for human rights.

It was in the interest of the neighbouring countries to abstain from any interference that might help feed the Afghan conflict, he said, and to strive instead to convince the various Afghan factions that there could be no military solution and that they must settle their differences through peaceful means. "The Afghan conflict is a legacy of the cold war", he said. "A legacy, however, that unlike similar cases -- such as the conflict in Cambodia -- has

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found in its complex historic, ethnic and cultural reality sufficient fuel to outlive the cold war. This is what makes it so necessary for all those involved in the crisis to fully understand the responsibility they have to reverse the situation, to renounce egoism and divisiveness, to search in good faith for a solution compatible with the interests and the needs of all. To be helped by the international community, Afghanistan must. first and foremost, help itself."

TONO EITEL (Germany) said the international community's commitment towards Afghanistan was contained in the General Assembly resolution adopted by consensus on 19 December 1995, which was very clear about the aims of the international peace efforts in Afghanistan and how the international community wanted to pursue them. The resolution also gave the United Nations Special Mission an unequivocal mandate to facilitate national reconciliation through the creation of a transitory mechanism, transfer of power and an immediate and durable cease-fire. Mr. Mestiri and his staff had already invested enormous efforts to work with the parties towards achieving those goals. Germany had provided one of the four political officers recruited to strengthen the Mission.

Today, his Government wanted to encourage Mr. Mestiri and his staff to continue to try and bring about an agreement on the composition of a transitory mechanism usually referred to as the "authoritative council", the composition of which must be solved in order to create a viable peace process, he said. Germany also agreed that the Mission could broaden its approach by seeking solutions to other questions that had to be addressed in the framework of its mandate. Such an approach would open up new possibilities for the Mission's success. Germany supported the idea of a United Nations-sponsored meeting or conference on Afghanistan, which would obviously have to be well- prepared and include all the parties to the conflict and an international element.

While the United Nations had been assigned a pivotal role to help bring about peace and stability in Afghanistan, it could only facilitate efforts by the parties to find a lasting solution to their differences, he continued. The Special Mission constituted an offer by the international community, and it was up to the parties to accept or decline the offer. So far, there had not been a whole-hearted and unequivocal acceptance and, if that continued, the United Nations might have to reconsider its commitment. The countries in the region also had a special responsibility. He expressed alarm at reports of continuous and increasing foreign interference, including the shipment of arms which was thwarting United Nations efforts.

JUAN SOMAVIA (Chile), President of the Council, speaking in his capacity as representative of his country, said that it was extremely timely to hear the views of other countries on the situation in Afghanistan. In that manner, Member States were contributing to the search for a solution to the conflict.

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It also showed transparency in the work of the Council. He regretted that the parties in Afghanistan still looked to a military solution of the conflict. States with influence over the parties must exert efforts to resolve the conflict. He called for an end to interference in the affairs of the country.

The efforts of the parties, as well as concerned States, must be geared towards achieving a cease-fire, he said. He paid tribute to the work of the ICRC, UNICEF, International Maritime Organization (IMO), World Food Programme (WFP), as well as non-governmental organizations who were working under very difficult circumstances. He supported the Special Mission of the Secretary- General. He appealed to the Government and the parties to agree on the participation of all segments of the country in the search for an end to the conflict. Afghan leaders should show concern for the ordinary people of the country.

KAMAL KHARRAZI (Iran) said that, having a long border with Afghanistan and sharing language and religious commonalities with its people, Iran had been gravely concerned about the situation in its neighbouring country. Iran had taken different measures to alleviate suffering there. It had hosted more than 2.5 million Afghan refugees, whom it had protected with a very high standard of treatment, despite the fact that the international assistance rendered to cover those costs had not matched the size and magnitude of the problem.

Iran had done its best to help the Afghan people, he continued. It had built hospitals and medical centres to treat patients free of charge, offered educational programmes for Afghan students, trained Afghan medical groups, vaccinated children and offered food and non-food assistance to refugees. To deal with the problems of the Afghan situation, an enduring commitment from the international community to provide both humanitarian and financial support was necessary.

At the political level, he continued, Iran had made several efforts to help the Afghan parties set aside their differences and build peace and stability in the region. It had repeatedly urged them to agree on a cease- fire and seek a negotiated peaceful solution acceptable to all. There was no justification for rejecting cease-fires and insisting on continuing armed hostilities. Afghans had every right to fully determine their own destiny and could do so. While supporting the right of the Afghans to choose their future, Iran's policy focused on maintaining contact with the Government and all Afghan groups and using every opportunity to promote peace.

Iran would continue to cooperate with its neighbours to promote peace and continue supporting the United Nations mission and the role of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, he said. Close cooperation between the Conference and the United Nations would best serve the cause of peace in Afghanistan. The international community should help reconstruct areas where

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fighting had stopped. That would give Afghans an incentive to drop their weapons and solve their differences peacefully. The United Nations could help the process by tapping into the experience of others, including neighbouring countries. "Needless to emphasize the fact that no plan should be imposed upon the people of Afghanistan, who have been sensitive throughout their history to foreign interference", he said.

MASAKI KONISHI (Japan) said that his country shared the views expressed in the Secretary-General's report to the General Assembly. The conflict should be resolved through the framework of the United Nations. Japan continued to support the Organization's mediation efforts to help bring about lasting stability to Afghanistan and the region.

The representative stressed that Afghanistan's destiny could only be determined by its people. They alone must decide on the elements to be included in a peace settlement, such as the form of their future government and the means of ensuring domestic security. The parties to the conflict must lay down their arms and negotiate as soon as possible. As a country that maintained good and neutral relations with the parties, Japan believed that it could play a useful role in helping to build the necessary confidence among them to create an environment conducive for peace.

Specifically, he went on to say that Japan could facilitate talks between the United Nations and the various parties and with the neighbouring countries. On various occasions, the parties had expressed to Japan their hope that it would contribute more to the efforts for a political settlement. Japan would develop its contacts with the parties concerned. A mission from its Government was now talking with some concerned countries, and Japan hoped to send a political officer to work for the United Nations Special Mission when an understanding was reached with the Secretariat.

He called attention to the Secretary-General's view that arms exports and other forms of foreign interference were prolonging the civil war. The countries concerned should stop such assistance immediately and rally behind the United Nations peace efforts. The Secretary-General's proposal for an international conference to address the problem of Afghanistan should be considered.

AHMAD KAMAL (Pakistan) said his country viewed the developments in Afghanistan since 1992 with great concern. As a neighbour with deep historical and cultural links with Afghanistan, and as one that had stood with the people of Afghanistan in their travails, Pakistan was shocked by the new conflict between brothers. The consistent position of Pakistan on the fratricidal conflict had always remained that only a broad-based interim mechanism, in which all factions would participate, could pave the way to a democratic government, that alone could provide the necessary durable fabric for this multi-ethnic country.

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It was evident that the people of Afghanistan were fed up with factional strife, and the United Nations and the international community should help them in that regard. A comprehensive framework for restoring peace in Afghanistan, with real commitment and support of international community, must be delineated. It should have political, economic and humanitarian components and should be implemented with vigour and determination, he added.

Much of the strife in Afghanistan could be attributed to the absence of legitimate governance, he said. Legitimacy flowed not through military diktat or the use of weaponry against innocent civilians, but from their confidence and support. Attempts by one group or another to claim legitimacy on the basis of lapsed agreements had been a core reason, fueling the factional strife. The General Assembly had clearly stipulated as essential the transfer of power through the urgent establishment of a fully representative and broad- based authoritative council. The United Nations Special Mission had made commendable efforts to deal with that issue. Regrettably, those efforts continued to be frustrated by lack of political will. A massive infusion of weapons and funds from abroad for various political and military factions compound the problem and weakened the resolve to seek national reconciliation. Unfortunately, many political factions had been reduced to mere pawns in a chess game, which had broader regional and international dimensions, he said.

Pakistan was today being portrayed by some as playing politics in Afghanistan. Those who accused Pakistan of interfering in Afghanistan knew full well that it had scrupulously refrained from supporting one faction or the other. Those allegations against Pakistan were concocted in an attempt to cover up the massive weapon supplies from certain quarters or were an expression of their disappointment on finding no such support from Pakistan. More fundamentally, the trumpeting of those allegations was a naive attempt to explain away the untenable situation in which those factions found themselves, due to a complete lack of popular support from the Afghan people. "The culture of money, weapons and drugs has been deliberately cultivated to foist military diktat over the people of Afghanistan by self-seeking mercenaries who have shown by their actions that they care little about the Afghan nation or Islam", he said.

It was ironical that the nominal central authority physically controlled only five of the 32 provinces, yet, despite its long self-extended term, had not been able to obtain the allegiance of those whom it claimed the right to govern. On the other hand, the Taliban controlled more than half the country and were locked in a struggle with the nominal central authority. A quarter was controlled by General Rashid Dostum, and other parts by smaller factions. Those opposed to the nominal central authority questioned its legitimacy. Central to that was the fact that, under the Afghan Accords of March 1993, the term of the government in Kabul had expired in June 1994. Those Accords had been arrived at by a process of intra-Afghan dialogue, which had been interrupted.

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The Security Council must lend its full support to the efforts of the United Nations Special Mission to revive the intra-Afghan political process, he said. A representative gathering of the Afghan leaders should be convened under United Nations auspices or under the joint auspices of the United Nations and neighbouring countries, to launch a credible process involving the transfer of power to a fully representative broad-based government. Pakistan was ready to support such a process, which is the only way to address the issues. Such a gathering could also address the question of the introduction of a neutral security force, and the demilitarization of Kabul and Afghanistan, as important steps, which should proceed simultaneously with the formation of a broad-based government. Pakistan also favoured a complete ban on weapons and arms supplies to the warring factions in Afghanistan. The imposition of a general arms embargo by the Security Council would convey the right signal to the Afghan warlords of the international community's determination to bring the intolerable situation to an early end.

The Council should also consider imposing an embargo so as to effectively interdict the plane loads of ammunition being flown into Afghanistan each day from various destinations, he said. Monitoring the arms and air embargo would require an effective mechanism, which it would be possible for the United Nations to set up, in cooperation possibly with the Organization of the Islamic Conference. It was premature to hold an international conference on Afghanistan now. No solution from outside could be imposed on the Afghans. A durable solution could only be evolved by the Afghans themselves. A representative gathering of the Afghans under the auspices of the United Nations, assisted if necessary by the Friends of Afghanistan, would be a more feasible means to launch the intra-Afghan peace process.

The other elements of a comprehensive approach required equal attention, he continued. Generous and sustained international commitment to the economic reconstruction of Afghanistan and the provision of urgent humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan were needed. Assistance for the refugees in Pakistan and Iran and for their rapid repatriation to a peaceful Afghanistan was also necessary. More than 1.5 million refugees resided in Pakistan, which had spent around 10.5 billion rupees on them.

Pakistan welcomed the open debate in the Security Council. However, it was convinced that the Council had not heard the true voice of the Afghan people, who alone could decide on their future. Until that was done, discussions could continue to be ill-informed and incomplete. The Council should find ways and means to hear the views of all the factions in Afghanistan, without being inhibited by simple rules and regulations.

EMILIO J. CARDENAS (Argentina) said the people of Afghanistan had suffered more than 16 years of futile and unwarranted violence. The people were among the cursed of the world. The situation in Afghanistan had been

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described as one of the worst humanitarian crises of the world. Cessation of hostilities was needed, without which reconstruction could not be undertaken. The time had come for the cycle of violence to be stopped.

Argentina supported the convening of a peace Conference. He called for the establishment of a coalition of peace, comprising friends of Afghanistan. The presence there of the United Nations was the only hope for peace, and that presence should be strengthened and supported in all possible ways. The role of the major Powers and Afghanistan's neighbours was also important.

The flow of arms, military supplies and money to the factions should be cut, he continued. There should be respect for human rights. Unilateral activities which compromised the territorial integrity of Afghanistan should be stopped. The international community should do everything to promote peace in the country.

Negotiating efforts should be reactivated, he said. The international community should not wait. The time had come for work on the "globalization of peace" starting with Afghanistan. Settlement of the Afghan question should not be postponed. Argentina welcomed the holding of debates which demonstrated transparency in the work of the Council. Such open debates also allowed Member States to contribute to the work of the Council.

Speaking under the provisions of rule 39, AHMET ENGIN ANSAY, Observer for the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said that since the liberation of Afghanistan and following the collapse of the Najibullah regime in April 1992, a peaceful transfer of power to the Afghan Mujahideen had constituted a principal objective of all OIC action on the Afghan question. It was in that spirit that the agreements signed by the leaders of the Afghan Mujahideen on 24 April 1992, on the formation of their new government, and the installation, four days later, of the Government of the Islamic State of Afghanistan, were welcomed by the OIC with great hopes and expectations. Regrettably, those expectations had proved to be short-lived, as fighting erupted among different Mujahideen groups in and around Kabul. Among other measures, the launching of an ambitious OIC programme of reconstruction assistance, that was being developed in mutual cooperation between the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Islamic Development Bank for the newly resurrected State of Afghanistan, was seriously hampered by those events. Afghanistan had deteriorated ever since.

The OIC had seized every opportunity to play a constructive role in the matter, he said. The Secretary-General of the OIC, Hamid Algabid, had himself appealed to the concerned parties to cease hostilities and seek a peaceful solution through dialogue. In a statement on 25 January 1993, he had welcomed the initiative of King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia for the restoration of peace in Afghanistan, urging the Mujahideen leaders to respond positively to that initiative. The Secretary-General's Special Representative for

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Afghanistan, Ambassador Ibrahim Bakr, had visited the region and extended the OIC's full diplomatic and political support to he Saudi initiative. That initiative had been reinforced by that of the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, resulting in a fruitful meeting of all Afghan Mujahideen leaders in Islamabad, on 7 March 1993. The Afghan Peace Accord, concluded that day, had been ratified on 12 March 1993 at Makkah, Saudi Arabia, in the presence of King Fahd and the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Under article 10 of the Afghan Peace Accord, the Organization of the Islamic Conference was given the responsibility, together with the representatives of the Afghan parties, to monitor the cease-fire and the cessation of hostilities in Afghanistan, he continued. The OIC welcomed the call, and serious consultations had been undertaken at the highest levels to define its monitoring role and to detail its mechanism. Plans had also considered by the Islamic Development Bank for dispatching teams of experts to Afghanistan to evaluate the country's reconstruction and development needs. The twenty-first Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers, held in Karachi, Pakistan, in April 1993, had appealed to member States and the international community to provide humanitarian and financial assistance to Afghanistan.

Those efforts and other earlier supportive moves had suffered a setback as fresh intra-factional fighting broke out in Afghanistan in May 1993, he said. Since then, the hostilities had never completely ceased; rather, they had frequently gained intensity, causing much human suffering, including the loss of lives. They had hampered measures that would have fostered stability and paved the way for social and economic development. The OIC was working with the United Nations peacemaking efforts in Afghanistan.

To help implement the Afghan Peace Accord, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, in cooperation with Pakistan and in full agreement of all other Afghan parties, had established a permanent representation in Islamabad. The Secretary-General of the OIC had proposed that once a durable cease-fire had been established, the OIC could examine the possibility of convening a gathering of all concerned parties at a suitable place, preferably Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and at an appropriate time, to initiate an inter-Afghan process for resolving their problems and for defining he direction of efforts to establish durable peace in Afghanistan.

He dew attention to the proximity peace talks, held in Teheran from 29 November to 7 December 1994, among the Afghan parties, with the participation of the Special Representative of the OIC Secretary-General, the OIC Permanent Representative for Afghanistan, and in the presence of the United Nations Representative. Those talks, conducted at the initiative of the Government of Iran, had been devoted to a comprehensive exchange of views on ways to establish a cease-ire, a mechanism for the transfer of power, an interim government and a permanent political infrastructure in Afghanistan. The continuing infighting in Afghanistan had militated against giving

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practical effect to whatever understanding might have been arrived at in those talks.

The OIC peace initiative had advocated the convening of a preparatory meeting of representatives of leaders and political factions of Afghanistan, in addition to some selected Afghan independent personalities, to meet in Jeddah to discuss freely and, hopefully, to agree on an agenda for peace and on the mechanism for its implementation -- all by and among he Afghans themselves, with no outside interference of any kind. That meeting would enjoy all the support of both the United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and after agreement had been reached on a course of action, it could be assisted by the representatives of some neighbouring and other directly concerned countries in the implementation of future actions.

He reiterated that the OIC proposals and initiatives complied with General Assembly resolutions, and provided for no outside interference of any kind. Those proposals would be agreeable to the various parties, given some time and patience and perseverance. They should be seriously considered in all relevant forums and supported. He welcomed the Secretary-General's latest report of 3 April 1996, and his recommendations and conclusions concerning alternative ways of seeking a satisfactory solution to the Afghan question. The OIC proposal of an intra-Afghan meeting under joint sponsorship and to be joined at a later stage by other directly concerned countries, leading to the emergence of a fully representative, broad-based authority for Afghanistan, provided a viable alternative.

SLAHEDDINE ABDELLAH (Tunisia) said the situation in Afghanistan was a tragic one which had, among others, devastated the country's economy. Regrettably, appeals for an end to the conflict had not been heeded. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General had spared no effort to get the parties to agree to a cease-fire and to begin dialogue. Foreign intervention had further complicated the situation.

He said there was an urgent need to bring about an end to the cycle of violence and for the reconstruction of the country. He recalled the General Assembly resolution which had expressed a need for broad-based supreme council, which would help achieve a cease-fire leading to the formation of a transitional government.

The Security Council should urge the parties to agree to an immediate cease-fire and to begin a dialogue, which was the only means of ending the war, he said. The belligerent parties should fully cooperate with the United Nations Special Mission, which should be afforded every means to enable it to bring the parties to the negotiating table. The efforts of Mr. Mestiri, the Head of the United Nations Special Mission, should be supported by the Council.

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He supported the convening of an international conference on Afghanistan. A lasting settlement of the conflict could be achieved if the parties and neighbouring States supported the efforts of the United Nations Special Mission. The international community should continue to provide humanitarian and other assistance to Afghanistan, he stated.

AKSOLTAN T. ATAEVA (Turkmenistan) said that her country shared 800 kilometres of boundary with Afghanistan, and there with 1 million of his ethnic compatriots in the territory of Afghanistan. The damage to Afghanistan had been a cause of concern to Turkmenistan, which had impartial relations with all Afghan groups. It had no special relations with any of them and did not provide arms to either side. The conflict in Afghanistan affected the security of Turkmenistan and other countries. Problems that could affect Turkmenistan included drug and arms trafficking.

The destruction in Afghanistan had been complicated by outside intervention, she said. Such intervention should stop and the people allowed to pursue dialogue. The President of Turkmenistan had suggested an international conference on Afghanistan to help produce consensus on how to achieve peace and counter the effect of negative foreign intervention. There should be an embargo on arms exports to that country. Turkmenistan was ready to host the international conference. Turkmenistan would support efforts to solve the Afghan conflict and bring peace to the region.

HUSEYIN E. CELEM (Turkey) said the continuation of the armed conflict, which had taken an enormous humanitarian toll, had caused a deepening refugee crisis affecting not only Afghanistan, but also neighbouring countries of the region. The continuing hostilities had also endangered the process of political normalization. The tireless efforts of the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan had yet to bear results towards a peaceful settlement of the conflict. From the very beginning, Turkey had been an ardent supporter of the peace efforts of the Special Mission. It continued to support wide- range consultations with Afghan parties and its proposals to bring about an end to the factional fighting, to set in motion the process of political reconciliation and to embark on the challenging task of rehabilitation and reconstruction of Afghanistan.

Turkey's position on the conflict in Afghanistan, he said, could be summed up in four basic points. First, it attached great importance to the unity and territorial integrity of Afghanistan as the only basis on which a just and lasting solution could be built. Second, the international community had time and again expressed its firm position on how best to address the situation in Afghanistan, most lately through General Assembly resolution 50/88 of 19 December 1995, whereby it had requested the Secretary-General to continue his efforts to facilitate national reconciliation and reconstruction in Afghanistan, in particular by ensuring transfer of power. The resolution had also envisaged urgent establishment of a fully representative and broad- based authoritative council as the proper mechanism to achieve that objective. That resolution contained the fundamental elements and a general framework for a solution in Afghanistan, and it enjoyed the widest possible international support.

Third, he continued, the current fighting in the country should come to

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an end. Finally, all parties to the conflict should strictly respect the provisions of international humanitarian law. Millions of innocent civilians had lost their lives, millions had become maimed. That suffering had to stop. He appealed to all conflicting sides in Afghanistan, especially the leaders of the warring parties, to finally agree on a national reconciliation process which would lead to the restoration of a fully representative, broad-based government and to support the efforts of the international community in that regard.

He said Turkey attached a particular importance to the constructive role that the OIC had been playing to help bring about national reconciliation among the parties in Afghanistan, and fully support its efforts. The efforts of the OIC were conducted in close cooperation and coordination with the United Nations Special Mission and were complimentary in nature.

ALISHER VOHIDOV (Uzbekistan) said the United Nations Special Mission was important for peace in Afghanistan. He expressed appreciation for the decision to start the Mission's permanent practical activity in the city of Jalalabad. The implementation of the United Nations plan on reconciliation in Afghanistan would finally bring peace to that country. The world community should take seriously the realization of the documents and statements adopted by the General Assembly and the Security Council. It was important to single out General Assembly resolution 50/88 of 19 December 1995, and especially the section which called on all to stop supplying weapons and equipment for producing weapons to the parties in the conflict.

In that connection, he recalled the statement that the President of Uzbekistan had addressed to the Security Council in his speech at the special commemorative meeting of the General Assembly on its fiftieth anniversary. He had stated that the key to the resolution of the Afghan confrontation lies, first of all, in the elimination of the interference of external forces. He had appealed to the Security Council to implement an embargo on the supply of armaments to Afghanistan irrespective of their origin. That idea was now supported by many countries. However, peace could be achieved in Afghanistan not only by the measures undertaken inside the country, but also with the support of the international community. Only the international community's joint efforts could stop the war in Afghanistan, after which a secure situation in central Asia could be discussed.

RASHID ALIMOV (Tajikistan) said that his country was acutely aware that the situation in Afghanistan threatened international peace. The conflict in

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that country had led to immense pain and destruction, totally devastated its infrastructure and caused a humanitarian tragedy. Measures must be taken by the international community to make the factions end their hostilities and solve their conflict peacefully. The people of Tajikistan respected their neighbours and empathized with their tragedy. The conflict had led to greater availability of narcotics to other countries. The illegal arms trade was continuing and attacks were being launched into Tajikistan.

The continuation of the situation in Afghanistan was not acceptable, he said. A contact group had been set up, an arms embargo idea floated and the holding of an international conference suggested. However, the current United Nations Mission should be used and the factions should cease all hostilities to help bring about peace. In addition to States of the region, the United Nations should help bring about peace. Tajikistan was ready to help.

SUBRAMANIAM THANARAJASINGAM (Malaysia) said the continued rejection by the various Afghan factions of the peace proposals initiated by the international community had dampened the prospects for an early solution to the conflict. It was critical for all Afghan factions involved in the present conflict to settle their differences amicably and early. They needed to collectively ensure the success of the peace process to bring about an independent, united and sovereign Afghanistan. While maintaining the need for concerted efforts and actions by the international community to bring peace and normalcy to Afghanistan, Malaysia was concerned at the rapid escalation of foreign interference in that country. The involvement of foreign elements remained an obstacle to a peaceful settlement.

Malaysia shared the view that national reconciliation and reconstruction would be facilitated in Afghanistan through the establishment of a fully representative and broad-based authoritative council, he said. Through that council, hopefully all the feuding factions could eventually work for national reconciliation which would bring about urgently needed peace and stability in Afghanistan. As a first step, the warring parties needed to end the senseless bloodshed of innocent civilians and agree to abide by an unconditional and durable cease-fire. Malaysia would welcome the convening of an international conference to address the Afghan problem. It should be borne in mind, however, that only full cooperation of all the Afghan factions and the support of the international community could ensure the success of such a conference. Countries in the region could also make an important and useful contribution.

PRAKASH SHAH (India) said the spread of terrorism in the region and beyond was a matter of deep concern to his country, which had been a principal victim of State-supported terrorism and its export from across its borders. It was essential that the main focus of United Nations' peace efforts in Afghanistan should be the cessation of hostilities and prevention of foreign interference and outside support to rebel forces. There was also the danger of the risk of further intensification of armed conflict within Afghanistan

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and the strengthening of international terrorist activity, if illicit traffic of arms and narcotics was not arrested.

The humanitarian and developmental needs of Afghanistan should not be forgotten or ignored, he said. While the United Nations continued to work for a cease-fire and an end to foreign interference, the international community should mobilize the requisite assistance for the Afghan people with the same vigour and dedication with which it had approached similar task in other situations. India stood for a united, stable, independent and non-aligned Afghanistan, and opposed all foreign interference and intervention in the internal affairs of that country. It had provided humanitarian and developmental assistance to the people of Afghanistan. The urgent task of the United Nations in resolving the crisis should be the cessation of hostilities and the termination of foreign interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan. Humanitarian assistance should be rushed to all parts of the country, particularly to Kabul. The United Nations should draw up a comprehensive plan of assistance for the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan that would have to be implemented as soon as peace returned there.

ABDUL-RAHIM GHAFOORZAI, Vice-Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, expressing appreciation to all those who participated in the debate, said it exemplified the desire of the international community for an end to the conflict in Afghanistan. The Afghan people had suffered a great deal and desired peace.

Welcoming some of the ideas expressed during the debate to end the conflict, he said the only process for a lasting peace was one that involved all the Afghan people. His Government welcomed the change in the location of the headquarters of the United Nations Special Mission, but would like it to be based in Kabul.

His Government's objections to Pakistan's role in Afghanistan's affairs had been echoed by certain elements which understood and appreciated the friendship of the Afghan people towards Pakistan, he continued. The Government of Pakistan lacked a state policy on Afghanistan. Pakistan's interference on the side of peace would be welcomed, he said, adding that the Pakistan delegation continued to reflect the views of the opposition in Afghanistan.

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For information media. Not an official record.