MOSCOW — The Kremlin strongly desires a cease-fire in the war in Afghanistan so Soviet troops can return home to their families, Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze said in a speech in Kabul.
The official press agency Tass reported Shevardnadze's Monday night remarks in a dispatch from the Afghan capital today.
Shevardnadze and Communist Party Foreign Affairs Secretary Anatoly F. Dobrynin arrived there Monday for talks after last week's announcement by Afghan leader Mohammed Najibullah that the government will initiate a cease-fire Jan. 15.
Najibullah called on guerrilla groups fighting his socialist government to observe the truce for at least six months to facilitate negotiations to end the war.
The immediate response last week from Islamic, anti-Marxist rebels was negative.
"How can there be a cease-fire with Soviets still in Afghanistan, and fighting?"rebel leader Mohammed Nabi Mohammedi said last week.
Tass made no mention of any guerrilla declarations that their fighters do not intend to observe the truce.
"A cease-fire is an indispensable prerequisite condition for the rumble of guns to give way to the voice of reason and for the warring sides to get together at a common threshold of accord and be able to discuss a peaceful future of their country without interference," Shevardnadze said in his speech.