21 October AP

Khatami calls on Annan to prevent escalation of war in Afghanistan


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Iran's President Mohammad Khatami asked United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan Sunday to prevent further escalation of the war in next-door Afghanistan. In the telephone conversation   Khatami also stressed that all parties and groups in Afghanistan should participate in a future government that would replace the Taliban.

Khatami was quoted as saying that "a broad-based and permanent government" should be established in Afghanistan under the U.N. auspices and after U.N.-supervised elections. He expressed regret over the war in Afghanistan anf"the threat to the lives of innocent Afghans, saying the United Nations should exert more efforts to prevent the crisis from further aggravation, IRNA reported. While condemning terrorism, Khatami reiterated Iran's position that an anti-terror campaign should be led by the United Nations.

IRNA said Annan thanked Iran for establishing Afghan refugee camps and dispatching relief supplies from around the world to Afghanistan. On Sunday, Iranian journalists were shown a small refugee camp that Iran has built across the border in Afghanistan's Nimruz province in an area controlled by the anti-Taliban northern alliance.

Some 500 refugees, many ill with malaria, diarrhea and exhaustion, were housed in tents in an open area about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the Iranian border. Iran, which is already home to more than 1 million Afghan refugees from past conflicts, has said it will care for more refugees only in camps inside Afghan territory. But on Thursday, the head of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said after talks with authorities in Tehran that Iran would allow refugee camps to be set up on its borders as a temporary arrangement.

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