American correspondents who have been ordered to leave Afghanistan were unable to leave the country yesterday as all flights from Kabul were canceled.
Officials at the airport in New Delhi, where the first flights were bound, said Kabul Airport apparently was snowed in, preventing the journalists' departure.
Meanwhile, the State Department said two eyewitness reports confirmed accounts Thursday of fighting in Kabul between Soviet troops and regular Afghan Army units, as well as Moslem rebels.
The official Soviet news agency Tass said earlier yesterday that reports in The Washington Post of armed clashes between Soviets and Afghan regulars were "wishful thinking."
The State Department added that bad weather is hampering Soviet operations against the rebels in northeastern Afghanistan and that "massive amounts" of Soviet military supplies have jammed up Afghan ports.
As American correspondents were bottled up in the Kabul Intercontinental Hotel waiting for the expulsion order to be carried out, the Afghan Foreign Ministry invited journalists from all other countries to come to Afghanistan to "present a correct and true picture" of the situation there.
The U.S. reporters were accused of trying to "harm Afghanistan's friendly and good, neighborly relations" with Pakistan and Iran and conducting "false propaganda against Soviet-Afghan friendship."
In a related development, Chinese Foreign Minister Huang Hua led a Chinese delegation to Pakistan for high-level talks to discuss a joint response to Moscow's invasion of Afghanistan.
At the airport in Islamabad, Huang said he would be briefing Pakistani President Mohammed Zia ul-Haq on U.S. Secretary of Defense Harold Brown's recent visit to Peking.
"Recent developments in Afghanistan have added new significance to my visit at this time," the Chinese foreign minister said. He is expected to stay in Peshawar, near the Afghan frontier.
Both China and Pakistan border Afghanistan and have expressed concern about Soviet influence in the region after the Dec. 27 coup in Kabul that toppled the Marxist government of Hafizullah Amin and brought a rival faction led by Babrak Karmal to power.
China denied Indian press reports quoting antigovernment rebels as saying Chinese troops were helping the rebels in the northeast. Peking has, however, provided Pakistan with significant amounts of military hardware, including 700 T59 tanks and several squadrons of F9 fighter planes, according to diplomatic sources in Pakistan.
China also built a tank engine factory last year at Taxila, near Islamabad, and there reportedly are 40 Chinese military experts in Pakistan. i
The Indian press reports also said Chinese arms were pouring into Pakistan over the rugged Karakoram Pass and that armored Pakistain units were being moved to the border with Afghanistan.
There was no immediate confirmation from Pakistan but a Western expert in New Delhi noted that the Karakoram road normally is closed by snow from December through February, the Associated Press reported.
Meanwhile, in Moscow, a Soviet journalist from the Novosti news agency said in a public lecture that Soviet forces have suffered "no losses' in Afghanistan and are not engaged in combat action.
The journalist, Vladimir Ostrovsky, was quoted by the AP as saying Soviet troops were in Afghanistan merely to support the Afghan Army, which he said was battling counterrevolutionary elements and "bandits" supported from outside the country.
The Soviet press has ignored the issue of possible Soviet casualties in the Afghan conflict, while rebel forces have claimed that they have inflicted many losses on the invaders. Some independent sources have confirmed that there have been Soviet casualties.
In Saturday's editions, the Soviet Communist Party newspaper Pravda continued its scathing criticism of the United States, the Associated Press reported from Moscow.
[An editorial signed "A Petrov,"believed to be a pseudonym representing top Soviet policymakers, said U.S. policies are writing a "difficult page." in world history and the Soviet Union will not give in to economic blackmail, a reference to President Carter's decisions to bar the sale of 17 million tons of grain to the Soviet Union and other economic measures.]
[It again accused the United States and China of giving aid to Moslem rebels fighting the Soviet-backed Afghan government in pursuit of U.S. "militarist plans."]
[It claimed U.S. agents have considered establishing an Afghan government-in-exile in Pakistan as a legal base for continued opposition to Afghanistan's Marxist government.]
The Soviet press also said yesterday that the U.S. government was "having a fit of bellicose psychosis," as the Communist Party daily Pravda put it. Pravda commentator Yuri Zhukov said the things going on in Washington "surprise and alert even [American's] closest allies. . . . The Washington leaders seem to be suffering from some morbid sanctions syndrome."
Pravda's comment was a reference to U.S. efforts in the United Nations to obtain sanctions against Iran for the seizing of American hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and the successful vote condemning the Soviets for the Afghan invasion and calling for withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.
In another development, a small flotilla of six British ships was reported sailing toward the Mediterranean to bolster U.S. naval forces in the Persian Gulf. The fleet included a large amphibious assault ship capable of carrying up to 700 troops and a sophisticated communications ship.