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Soviet Union suffers resounding diplomatic defeat at UN over occupation of Afghanistan

The Soviet Union has suffered another resounding diplomatic defeat at the United Nations over its occupation of Afghanistan. and despite Moscow's threats and bluster against third-world nations here, the UN voted overwhelmingly for a resolution that in essence called for the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. And, for the first time, the resolution set up permanent UN machiner -- in the form of a special representative appointed by UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim -- to monitor the Afghan situation with a view toward promoting a political solution.

This clearly indicates a strong nonaligned opposition to foreign domination and military intervention -- whether practiced by the United States, the Soviet Union, China, or for that matter by any other country against a weaker neighbor.

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The resolution adopted by the General Assembly Nov. 20, by a vote of 111 to 22 with 12 abstentions, calls for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan. A similar resolution was adopted last January at the Special Session on Afghanistan, by only 104 votes to 8.

The Soviet Union's unprecedented isolation at the UN was made the more evident because it had launched a major effort to discourage third-World countries from voting in favor of the resolution.

"By telling us that such a vote would be considered by Moscow as an unfriendly act, the Soviet Union was trying to influence our vote," said one nonaligned ambassador whose country enjoys friendly relations with the USSR.

Veiled Soviet threats, according to many diplomats here, only stiffened the resolve of delegates to speak out against the occupation of Afghanistan.

At first glance, the resolution (mainly drafted by Pakistan) adopted last week was milder than last January's. It does not mention the USSR by name but speaks of "foreign troops" and demands that the troop withdrawal be "immediate," whereas last January's resolution wanted it to be "immediate and unconditional."

This softer tone does not mean there is less opposition at the UN to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, but that "the point right now is not just to express outrage but to create the conditions for a negotiated settlement," according to one diplomat here.

Apparently the Soviet Union was not sensitive to these nonaligned signals pointing toward a "realistic approach" to the problem, since the Soviet's permanent representative, Oleg A. Troyanovsky, called the resolution "an inadmissible interference in the affairs of Aghanistan" and tried very hard to block its passage.

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