KABUL, Afghanistan — President Najibullah on Sunday convened Afghanistan's first Parliament in 15 years with a call for U.S.-backed Muslim rebels to lay down their arms and take legislative seats held open for them.
However, in a 20-minute speech that was interrupted several times by applause, he said he will not concede any territory to the rebels, who have been fighting his Soviet-backed government since 1978.
"We are ready to listen to the views of the opposition," Najibullah said. "We are ready to receive them in Kabul."
He also said that the signing of an accord last month providing for the withdrawal of Soviet troops, which began May 15, "opened new doors for peace" but that it "does not mean overnight peace."
The rebels, however, say they will keep fighting as long as Najibullah remains in power.
The Parliament was elected April 14 as part of a government effort to widen its base. It consists of the House of Representatives and a 158-member Senate.