Uzbek general Dostam seeks Turkish support on Afghanistan
Wed 26 Aug 98 - 13:45 GMT
ANKARA, Aug 26 (AFP) - General Abdul Rashid Dostam, leader of Afghanistan's Uzbek militia, was in Turkey Wednesday seeking Ankara's support in his struggle against the Islamic Taliban movement, Turkish officials said.
"General Dostam is in Ankara for certain contacts," foreign ministry spokesman Necati Utkan told reporters, declining to specify how and when he arrived.
But sources said he had probably arrived from Iran on Tuesday.
Dostam has already met some government officials and was due to hold talks with foreign ministry authorities later on Wednesday, Turkish sources said.
"He is seeking Turkey's backing," one source said, without elaborating.
It was not immediately clear if Dostam was seeking asylum in Turkey or would return to Afghanistan to pursue his fight against the Taliban.
Dostam briefly fled to Turkey last year when one of his aides, General Abdulmalik, toppled him as leader of the Afghan Uzbeks.
But he returned to his stronghold of Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan last September and resumed power before being ousted by the Taliban in August.
An unconfirmed report by the Anatolia news agency suggested Abdulmalik, who has recently mended fences with Dostam, was also in Ankara.
Dostam's faction is part of an opposition alliance which includes ousted Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, former defence minister Ahmad Shah Masood and the Shiite Hezb-i-Wahdat faction.
Turkey last said Friday that the Taliban movement's military advance in Afghanistan should be stopped, in a move reflecting Ankara's fears on rising Islamic fundamentalism and a rivalry with Pakistan in marketing central Asia's lucrative energy resources.
"Taliban should be stopped in Afghanistan, otherwise it is likely to cause worrying results in the region," State Minister Ahat Andican, who is responsible for relations with Asian countries, said.
It was the first time Turkey had openly called for action against the Taliban Islamic militia.