U.S.-backed Afghan rebels and senior Soviet officials held their first official talks Saturday in a Saudi Arabia mountain resort, beginning with immediate disagreement over the agenda.
Yuli Vorontsov, the Soviet Union's first deputy foreign minister and Moscow's ambassador to Afghanistan, said he wanted to restrict the talks to the release of Soviet prisoners held by the guerrillas.The rebels' delegation, led by Burhanuddin Rabbani - head of a guerrilla alliance based in Pakistan - said it would discuss Soviet POWs in the context of a peace agreement that would replace U.N.-mediated accords signed earlier in Geneva.
Moscow has told the International Committee of the Red Cross that 313 Soviet servicemen are missing in action, but the Soviets presume many of them are dead, not POWs. The Moslem rebels say they are holding more than 313 Soviet POWs but refuse to give an exact figure.
Arab diplomats said the rebels and Soviets met at the Saudi Arabian mountain resort of Taif.