British and French diplomats left Kabul on Saturday after their nations closed their embassies, joining an exodus of Western countries as the last Soviet soldiers pull out of Afghanistan.
Britain's 19 embassy staff members and the four French Embassy workers flew aboard a chartered plane to New Delhi and arrived there Saturday evening. Their departure from Kabul was delayed a day because of a storm.A convoy of about 40 Soviet military vehicles rolled out of the snowy capital about 3 a.m., headed toward the border.
On Friday, a huge column of tanks, armored personnel carriers and trucks slipped out under cover of darkness and headed up the Salang Highway, the only route between Kabul and the Soviet border.
The deputy foreign minister of the Soviet Union, Yuli Vorontsov, was quoted as saying the Red Army will be out of the country well ahead of the Feb. 15 deadline set by an accord mediated by the U.N.
"Within four days, there will be no Soviet forces in Afghanistan," Vorontsov was quoted as saying by Iran's official Tehran Radio during a visit to Iran.
The radio said Vorontsov would discuss with Iranian officials and Afghan resistance leaders the future of Afghanistan after the Soviets leave.
Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze arrived in Pakistan on the same mission early Sunday and was expected to propose a political settlement.
"The Soviet leadership has decided to consult with the government of Pakistan on how best to contribute to restoring peace and tranquility in Afghanistan," Shevardnadze told reporters before a scheduled day of talks with Pakistani officials who support the guerrillas.
But he added, "Problems have been piling up. There are quite a few of them."
Pakistani Defense Minister Ghulam Sarwar Cheema said Saturday in the Saudi capital of Riyadh that his government has formed a committee to oversee resettlement of the 3 million Afghan refugees living in Pakistan.
"The process of shifting Afghan refugees from Pakistan to their homeland will be handled smoothly after complete evacuation of the Soviet forces from Afghanistan," said Cheema, on a state visit to Saudi Arabia.
Guerrilla leaders, meanwhile, warned they might launch a major attack on the strategic city of Jalalabad, about 90 miles east of Kabul.
Abdul Zaher, a senior commander of the Jamiat-i-Islami guerrilla group, said the insurgents did not want to attack the crowded city for fear of injuring civilians but that they might if communist forces there don't give up soon.
Jalalabad could be the first major Afghan city to fall to the guerrillas, local insurgent commanders said. They said its fall would weaken the defense of Kabul and open up the highway to the capital.
In and around Kabul, Afghan solders patrol the streets and outdoor markets. The armored personnel carriers once stationed in the crowded bazaars are gone.
Western countries began pulling their diplomats from Kabul late last month because of fears for their safety once the Soviets are gone and Afghan troops are left to battle Moslem guerrillas alone.
The Soviets intervened in December 1979 to back Afghan troops in their war with the Moslem guerrillas. They began pulling their estimated 100,000 soldiers out in May.
Soviet and Afghan officials have estimated there are about 1,000 Soviet soldiers still in Afghanistan, including a small contingent assigned to Kabul airport.
Giant Ilyushin-76 transport planes have been flying into Kabul ferrying supplies of flour and other goods in short supply.
Britain quietly shut its embassy early Saturday. "We didn't want a public display," said one diplomat, referring to the highly publicized flag-lowering ceremony when the U.S. Embassy closed.