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Wednesday, 21 May 1980
Page: 2961

Mr GRAHAM (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I address my question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Having regard to the recent announcement by the Government of Afghanistan purporting to be a submission designed to provide a solution to the international crisis resultant from the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, can the Minister advise this House of the reaction of the Australian Government?

Mr PEACOCK (KOOYONG, VICTORIA) (Minister for Foreign Affairs) - I am, of course, aware of a proposal attributed to the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan purporting to contain elements for a solution to the Afghan crisis. The statement put forward proposes unconditional bilateral talks with Iran and Pakistan and guarantees by the Soviet Union and the United States, and provides for the return of Afghan refugees to Afghanistan under an alleged general amnesty and then the eventual withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan.

In the Government's view this represents absolutely no advance on previous positions taken by the Soviet Union and by Afghanistan concerning the presence of Soviet forces in that country. Elsewhere it has been characterised as a proposal which is Soviet engineered to bring about support from the Islamic Conference which concludes today in Islamabad. This important meeting of Islamic Foreign Ministers is expected to reaffirm the continuing concern of Islamic countries over the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

The Soviet Union has maintained that its forces are in Afghanistan at the invitation of the Afghan Government and will not be withdrawn until those foreign forces alleged to be interfering in Afghanistan's internal affairs give guarantees that they will cease their subversive activities. Both the Prime Minister and I have said here and elsewhere- and I reiterate it- that the Soviet Union's reason for its invasion of Afghanistan is totally spurious. We have no evidence to support the accusation that foreign powers other than the Soviet Union have been interfering in Afghanistan's internal affairs. Guarantees by Afghanistan's neighbours and other major powers not to engage in subversive activities would only legitimise the presence of the Soviet occupying army.

The Australian Government considers that there can be no lasting political settlement in Afghanistan until the Soviet Union withdraws its forces and allows the Afghan people to determine their own future without external interference. There is no evidence to suggest that the Soviet Union is willing to accept such an expression of free choice by the people of Afghanistan.

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