The Kremlin's top envoy to Afghanistan said Tuesday there is "a serious danger" the Soviets will not have their troops out of Afghanistan by a Feb. 15 deadline.
Yuli M. Vorontsov, the Soviets' first deputy foreign minister and the ambassador to Kabul, blamed the United States and hard-line elements among Afghan guerrillas for a deteriorating situation in the country."The opposition says it wants to topple the current government in Kabul militarily," said Vorontsov, who recently met with leaders of the Afghan resistance in Iran and Pakistan. "They don't want to see a broad-based government."
Vorontsov also told reporters at a government news briefing that U.S. arms are still being shipped to the Afghan guerrillas and that the U.S. government has not given "any indication of its genuine desire to work for an Afghan settlement."
Asked if the Soviet Union might further delay withdrawal of the 50,000 troops it still has in Afghanistan, Vorontsov replied: "It's a serious danger. Things might shape up in such a way that the Soviet Union will be unable to do what we'd decided to do as a matter of principle."
In Washington, White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said the administration expects the Soviets to hold to the Feb. 15 pullout date.
"We still expect them to meet the deadline," Fitzwater said. "I don't believe we've had any official notification to the contrary."