Afghanistan's Foreign Minister Hafizullah Amin today rejected as "completely baseless" American protests over the way Afghan security forces handled the shootout with kidnapers last week in which U.S. Ambassador Adolph Dubs was killed.
Amin said the Afghans had acted only out of concern for the ambassador's safety and had done all they could to prevent his death.
"I see no aspect of the operation for which we can be blamed," he said.
Amiin, who is also deputy prime minister and is generally regarded as the second man in the government of Premier Noor Mohammed Taraki, refused at a press conference to acknowledge that the performance of the Afghan security forces had been deficient in any way. He denied that the government had been discourteous or deficient in matters of protocol after Dubs' death, rejected American allegations that he had made himself unavailable on the day of the incident, and denied that any Soviet advisers had worked with the Afghans on the scene.
Amin said he would "categorically reject" American accusations that he had avoided them or had been out of touch when they were trying urgently to get through to him when Dubs was being held in a downtown hotel room. He said nobody from the U.S. Embassy tried to reach him until more than three hours after Dubs was seized and that his subordinates had been available the entire time.
Amin spoke in Pushtu, his native language, at a wide-ranging press conference that covered Afghan relations with the Soviet Union, economic policy and regional issues. On every point, he insisted that the Afghans were charting their own course, in accordance with the principles of independence and nonalignment, and were not under the policy domination of their northern neighbor, the Soviet Union.
He also said his country still wants to have good relations with the United States, despite the bitterness created by last week's kidnaping and murder.
"I don't want to comment on whatever conclusions the American government may come to," he said, "but for our own government I can say this: The actions of the Afghan authorities were completely aimed at releasing the ambassador unharmed, and were inspired by friendly relations between the two countries. Our measures were completely those of friendship, both during the incident and afterward during the ceremonies."
Amin met this morning with J. Bruce Amstutz, charge d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy, his first meeting with any American official since Dubs was kidnaped last Wednesday. He did not comment on the substance of their discussion, but he said the Afghans had warned Dubs three months ago that he was being followed and had offered him protection, only to have it rejected.
The United States has requested a formal written report from the government about the incident, which has embittered the embassy staff here and chilled relations not only between the United States and Afghanistan but also between the United States and the Soviet Union.
Amin, like security chief Maj. Daoud Taroun in an earlier interview, said that contrary to American accusations, Soviet advisers who were in the hotel at the time of the incident had nothing to do with the way it was handled and did not give any instructions to the Afghans.
This country does have extremely close ties with Moscow, he acknowledged, but that has been true for 60 years. The treaty of friendship the two countries signed when Taraki visited Moscow in December, he said, represents an evolution of existing policy, not a new alignment for Afghanistan.