CIS plots response to Taliban victory

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The Independent Online
Almaty - Five Commonwealth of Independent States leaders, concerned about border security following the rise to power in Afghanistan of a radical Islamic militia, gathered in Kazakhstan yesterday to consider a joint response.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, speaking ahead of the summit, urged other states not to interfere in the internal affairs of Afghanistan. But he said he was prepared to submit a peace formula.

The CIS leaders, meeting at the initiative of Russian President Boris Yeltsin, are especially concerned about security along the southern borders of the former Soviet Central Asian states which the Kremlin sees as its strategic underbelly.

"Unfortunately the interests of many great states are focused there [in Afghanistan]," Mr Nazarbayev said. "Now what is important is not to meddle in the internal affairs."

But Mr Nazarbayev said only his country was in a position to offer a proper peace proposal for Afghanistan.

"I think Kazakhstan is well-positioned to do this as Russia and some other states are not correctly perceived here," he said in a reference to Moscow's intervention in Afghanistan in 1979-1989.

The Taliban militia, a hardline Islamic group, seized the Afghan capital Kabul last week and their advance north towards CIS borders, some of which are guarded with Russian help, has worried Moscow and some other regional states.

The presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan attended the summit along with the Russian Prime Minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin.