MOSCOW, JUNE 14 -- Afghan leader Najibullah called today for contacts between his Soviet-backed government and former monarchist leaders of Afghanistan, as part of efforts to resolve the nine-year-old war in the country, according to remarks released by the official Soviet news agency Tass.
Najibullah said the ruling Afghan communists would have to be prepared to share power in a multiparty government in completing his announced policy of "national reconciliation." He said all the parties in such a government would have to favor stronger ties with the Soviet Union, Tass said.
Najibullah, who has been intensifying political overtures to Afghan guerrillas fighting government and Soviet forces, said, "The time has come for offering the other side concrete measures and posts," according to Tass. Speaking in the Afghan capital, Kabul, to the Central Committee of the ruling People's Democratic Party, he conceded that an earlier move, a unilateral cease-fire declared in January, had failed. The Afghan guerrillas rejected the truce, and no significant numbers of the millions of Afghan refugees have heeded Najibullah's calls to return.
Western diplomats here said that his speech seemed designed to overcome some of the hurdles remaining after the original bid for national reconciliation received a lukewarm response.
Najibullah called for using "the possibilities for entering into contact with monarchist forces . . . and well-known and authoritative clergymen." The former Afghan king, Mohammed Zahir Shah, lives in Italy and has expressed willingness to help in a settlement if both sides to the conflict agree.
Afghan communists took power in a military coup in 1978, sparking a civil war. Soviet forces invaded in 1979, when the guerrillas threatened to topple the communists.
In an interview last month with the Italian Communist Party newspaper, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said that Kabul was free to recruit Afghans abroad in its quest for national reconciliation, and appeared specifically to suggest Zahir Shah as a possibility.