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    Afghan leader Babrak Karmal has rejected the idea of neutrality for Afghanistan.

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    SCU President Karmal of Afghanistan speaking about neutrality

    Initials /gb

    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: Afghan leader Babrak Karmal has rejected the idea of neutrality for Afghanistan. In a statement marking the Islamic New Year, Mr. Karmal criticised the attempts by foreign powers to negotiate a neutral state and named the Soviet Union as the legitimate guarantor of Afghan independence.

    SYNOPSIS: Mr Karmal, who came to power in a Soviet-backed coup on December 27, delivered his New year statement in Kabul. He said the Afghan revolution could now enter a new stage, opening broad perspectives before afghanistan and its people. He believed the country had sufficient means to push forward its social and economic development, with priority fr agricultural development. Eighty-five per cent of Afghanistan's fifteen million people still earn their living by farming.

    Mr Karmal said Afghanistan had traditionally enjoyed friendly relations with the Soviet Union. He claimed the recent increase in co-operation between the two countries had come about at the wish of the Afghan people. He said the Soviet Union was unconditionally offering economic and political aid and the Soviet government was thus the legitimate guarantor of the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan.

    Mr Karmal claimed that only the Afghan people and their government could decide the future of their country. He said the solution to the present Afghan crisis lay in the immediate end of foreign interference and aggression. The Afghan leader stressed that efforts by foreign power to impose neutrality of Afghanistan were delaying the development of the country and impeding friendly relations with neighbouring countries.

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