The Soviet Union has formally rejected a West European negotiating initiative on Afghanistan, a slap at British suggestions that the Soviets were keeping options open on the proposal.
Monitor correspondent Ned Temko reports that diplomatic sources in Moscow said the Soviet reply came in an "aide-memoire" presented last week to a British Foreign Office representative in London.
The European initiative, based on ideas formulated by the British, was formally conveyed to the Soviets during a visit here in early July by the British foreign secretary, Lord Carrington.
The note delivered in London termed the initiative both unrealistic and "unacceptable," diplomatic sources in Moscow said. The proposal was clearly tailored to tempt the Soviets into talks, and its wording did not directly challenge Moscow's contention that its intervention in Afghanistan had been in reply to "imperialist" interference there.
Diplomats here cautioned that the Soviets might yet choose to move on the European proposal, if and when they felt the moment was politically right for withdrawal of their troops from Afghanistan. But for the time being at least, one diplomat remarked, the latest Soviet more amounted to throwing cold water on the European initiative.
The Soviets have charged that West Europe wants to seal an Afghanistan settlement "behind the back" of the Soviet-su pported regime there.