Dáil Éireann - Volume 387 - 21 February, 1989

Written Answers. - Diplomats' Withdrawal from Afghanistan.

33. Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the withdrawal of the International Diplomatic Communities from Kabul in Afghanistan; and if he will further make a statement on the position being put forward by Ireland at the United Nations in relation to the impending loss of life in the capital.

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Lenihan): I am aware that a number of countries have withdrawn their diplomats from Afghanistan. Clearly such a [847] decision is a matter for the countries concerned. In the case of Afghanistan concern for the safety of diplomats and their families in Kabul is obviously a major consideration on the part of those concerned.

Although Ireland has regularly stated its views on the question of Afghanistan in the UN, we have not had occasion to make a statement on this particular aspect of the question in that forum. In a statement on 14 February, along with our partners in the Twelve, we expressed satisfaction at the prospective withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. This fulfils one of the main provisions of the Geneva Agreements, which constitute an important step towards a comprehensive political solution to the Afghan problem.

With the full Soviet withdrawal, possibilities now increase for an internal settlement in Afghanistan. Along with our partners in the Twelve, Ireland urged all parties concerned, including the Resistance, to exercise moderation and realism in order to achieve the establishment of a fully representative Government formed through a genuine act of self-determination. The Twelve reiterated their continued support for the efforts of the United Nations Secretary General to assist the formation of such a Government, while accepting that it is the exclusive responsibility of the Afghan people to decide upon its composition.

The achievement of a comprehensive political settlement, which should guarantee a non-aligned, independent and democratic Afghanistan where respect for human rights will prevail, and the restoration of peace are necessary preconditions for the voluntary return of the refugees in safety and honour.

In the statement of 14 February the European Community and its member states stressed their readiness to contribute to the multilateral aid effort to resettle the refugees, help the innocent victims of war and reconstruct the country, in close co-operation with the United Nations co-ordinator for humanitarian and economic assistance to Afghanistan.