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Thursday, 14 February, 2002, 15:01 GMT
Afghan radical says will leave Iran

The former Mujahideen commander, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, has indicated he is ready to leave Iran and return to his native Afghanistan, if that would help ease relations between Tehran and Washington.

The offer, made in a statement, comes a few days after the Iranian authorities closed down the offices of his group, Hezb-e-Islami.

They have also accused him of abusing Iranian hospitality following his comments vowing to fight western intervention in Afghanistan, and to oppose the interim government in Kabul.

In the statement, Mr Hekmatyar reiterated his opposition to the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan.

He said if they left, he would be ready to cooperate with the new government and in holding elections.

Mr Hekmatyar is held responsible by many Afghans for much of the destruction of Kabul in the early 1990s, when he was still prime minister.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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