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    Iran not expelling Afghan refugees: ministry

    KABUL (PAN): The Ministry of Refugee and Repatriation Affairs on Saturday rejected reports that Iran had given a three-month ultimatum to 900,000 registered Afghan refugees to leave the neighbouring country.

    An Iranian news agency, quoting unnamed officials, reported last week that heads of Afghan families in Iran had been asked to leave the country in three months.      

    However, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Refugee and Repatriation Affairs said the Iranian government had asked Afghan refugees to visit their home country and study conditions for repatriation.

    "Every Afghan family in Iran can come to Afghanistan in three months to see whether they can return to their homeland without any coercion," Islamuddin Juraat told reporters in Kabul.

    Insisting that Iran did not want to expel Afghan refugees, the spokesman said 1.4 million illegal and 900,000 legal Afghans were currently living in Iran.

    To discuss the voluntary repatriation of refugees, Japan will host a meeting involving Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan early next year.