Deputy Foreign Minister Alikbek Jekshenkulov hinted yesterday that Kyrgyzstan is prepared to establish diplomatic relations with the Taliban authorities in Kabul, “in view of the present-day realities in Afghanistan.” Jekshenkulov linked this possibility to Kyrgyzstan’s initiative to mediate between the warring Afghan parties. President Askar Akaev has offered to host in Bishkek a UN-sponsored conference with the participation of all the warring parties, of Afghanistan’s neighbors, and of the United States and Russia in order to work out a political settlement in Afghanistan. (Itar-Tass, September 9)
Jekshenkulov did not mention withdrawal of recognition from the group around Burhanuddin Rabani, which now controls only some ten percent of Afghanistan’s territory but continues to enjoys international recognition as a government and holds Afghanistan’s UN seat. Only a handful of countries–notably Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates–recognize the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan. Kyrgyzstan’s credentials as a mediator would be boosted by a move amounting de facto to parallel recognition of both Afghan camps.–VS
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