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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

CIS Issues Warning To Taliban

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Leaders from Russia and four Central Asian states threatened to use force against the Afghan Taliban if they crossed into former Soviet territory, and the president of Uzbekistan even pledged to support the Taliban's main rival if he were attacked.


Standing in for President Boris Yeltsin, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin flew to Kazakhstan at short notice for a two-hour summit with the presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to draft a joint response to growing fears that the Taliban troops which recently captured the Afghan capital Kabul will march on into the former Soviet Union.


"We issue a warning: If the conflict spreads beyond the border of Afghanistan into the Commonwealth of Independent States, our states will take adequate measures," said Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.


Nazarbayev and his colleagues pledged to avoid interfering in the Afghan war by moving in troops, and according to Interfax, the official communique rejected CIS interference in the Afghan conflict.


But Islam Karimov, the Uzbek president, hinted that he might provide indirect support for Afghan warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum who is now the only force that stands between the Taliban and the former Soviet Union.


"Dostum is in control of the Salang tunnel," Karimov said, referring to a strategic passage through a mountain range in northern Afghanistan. "If that tunnel is given up to the Taliban nothing stands in the way for the Taliban to move north."


"If we really want to prevent an escalation of the war, if we want this war to stop," he added, "we should do all we can so that Dostum keeps the Salang."


Karimov is widely believed to have supported Dostum in the past, but he emphatically denied this yesterday.