ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Afghanistan Edging Closer

 Afghanistan: Edging Closer Lawrence Lifschultz GENEVA: The seventh round of the Geneva 'proximity' talks adjourned on May 23 after three weeks of what negotiators termed a 'marathon effort' to conclude an agreement. The talks will resume on July 30 after the Pakistan and Afghan delegations have consulted their respective governments and allies. Speaking to journalists at the end of the session, Diego Cordovez, the UN mediator who has presided over the negotiations for more than four years, said that unlike the past where he had been criticised for undue optimism, he was now authorised to say unequivocally that both parties to the negotiations believed "substantial and significant'' progress towards concluding an agreement had been made. He said, "The document is almost complete. The wording of only two paragraphs remain outstanding,'' The May session was designed to hammer out a settlement of Afghanistan's civil war, which among other elements would lead to a withdrawal of Soviet forces. Most of the three-week session concerned the precise textual development of what is known as the 'fourth and final instrument'. The text of the first three instruments, relating to the principles of non-interference, the declaration of international guarantees, and the basis for the voluntary return of refugees were settled during the negotiations last year, The fourth instrument contains crucial provisions which will link the terms of withdrawal with simultaneous enforcement of non-interference across international borders. There are nine sections to the fourth instrument. The textual wording of seven parts has been settled by the two sides. Although the UN negotiator, Cordovez, and the respective delegations from Pakistan and Afghanistan, refused to discuss the unsettled elements, an Asian diplomatic source in Geneva in touch with the proceedings identified the final two as concerning the procedure for verifying the settlement once it is underway, and the actual time-frame in which Soviet forces will be withdrawn.

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