The media are circulating rumours of the Northern Alliance putting civilians to mass executions in Afghan areas liberated from the Taliban. The information has to be thoroughly checked, pointed out President Vladimir Putin as he and President George W. Bush were addressing a joint news conference to sum up the bilateral negotiations. He qualified the rumours as "information resistance", usual part of wartime routine. Ethnic Uzbeks and Tajiks predominate the population in the Afghan north, and are prominent on the Northern Alliance forces. It is hard to believe they can shoot unarmed captives, said President Putin. If human rights and regulations of POW handling are abused in the Afghan warfare, the outrages must certainly get due response--but not before they are proved, he pointed out. President Bush, in his turn, highlighted public joy and enthusiasm in a number of north Afghan towns as North Alliance forces were entering. "The people saw they were free now--free of oppression and a dictatorial government." An appalling decade in the life of the human race, the US President described the years of the Taliban rule. The Northern Alliance must treat people with respect, and the Russian and US Presidents are fully aware of that, he emphatically added. The USA pledges to carry on partnership with the Alliance for it to see that Afghan stability is its goal, said President Bush as he called Afghanistan to be a good neighbour to other countries. That is why its future government is to have all ethnic entities represented, stressed the US President.
The Americans came to realise that they would have to either leave the region or weaken their presence there. It is Russia that is filling the vacuum now