MOSCOW — The Soviet Union and Afghanistan said today they have reached agreement on ending the Afghan civil war and urged that a formal accord be signed in Geneva so the Kremlin can begin withdrawing its troops May 15.
The target date is two weeks before Mikhail S. Gorbachev and President Reagan begin their summit in the Soviet capital. Agreement on Afghanistan would resolve an issue that has troubled relations for nearly a decade, prompting a U.S. grain embargo and keeping Americans home from the 1980 Olympics in Moscow.
Gorbachev and Afghan leader Najibullah issued a joint statement after meeting in the Soviet Central Asian city of Tashkent.
"There is certain to be a signed agreement on political normalization," Tass quoted Gorbachev as saying while he toured a collective farm near Tashkent after the meeting. "I think both Pakistan and Afghanistan will come to agreement, and that we and the Americans will agree to be guarantors."
The joint communique, distributed by Tass and read during the nightly Soviet news program "Vremya," omitted the usual criticism of positions taken by Pakistan and the United States at the Geneva peace talks. This omission could mean some behind-the-scenes compromise has been forged.
Pakistan President Zia ul-Haq said the Geneva accords were ready for signing, but U.N. mediator Diego Cordovez indicated that problems remained.
"There are very difficult decisions and the only good thing--I think that is important--is that the political will is obviously there to take them," he told reporters in Geneva after the Soviet-Afghan statement was issued.
Draft documents in Geneva call for an end to outside aid for the rebels and U.S. officials have pressed for "symmetry," a simultaneous end of Soviet military aid to Najibullah's government.
Zia, quoted by Pakistan's official news agency, said: "According to unofficial reports, the two superpowers have agreed on the symmetry under which both would be able to provide continued assistance to their respective allies in Afghanistan." No details of the alleged agreement were given.
Sources in Washington called the Gorbachev-Najibullah statement a positive sign of accommodation on the symmetry question, but White House Chief of Staff Howard H. Baker Jr. said Reagan, while pleased with news of the agreement, "wants to see the fine print." And the State Department said it was reserving judgment.
Soviet officials claimed earlier this week that Pakistan, Afghanistan's eastern neighbor, and the United States were delaying a settlement. They threatened to make a separate withdrawal arrangement with the Afghan leadership if the Geneva talks failed.
Muslim insurgents began fighting in Afghanistan after a Communist coup in April, 1978. Soviet military forces entered the country in December, 1979, and an estimated 115,000 soldiers now are there to help fight the guerrillas.
Bases in Pakistan
Pakistan is involved in the negotiations because about 3.5 million Afghan refugees live there. Most are in border towns and camps that serve as bases and supply points for the guerrillas, who are armed and trained by Pakistan and the United States.
Gennady I. Gerasimov, the Soviet Foreign Ministry spokesman, was asked at a news briefing whether there was a U.S.-Soviet compromise on Afghan aid.
"The situation is evolving," he said.
He refused comment about Zia's statement and would not answer questions about the Soviet-Afghan statement, saying only: "Let's let the communique work for itself for a while."