Karzai urges Rouhani to extend Afghans’ visas
KABUL (PAN): President Hamid Karzai, who met his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek on Thursday, called on Tehran to extend visas of Afghan refugees in the neighbouring country.
Issues concerning the war on terrorism, the Afghan peace process and Kabul’s security agreements with the US and other countries and problems facing Afghan refugees in Iran came under discussion as both leaders met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s meeting that began on Friday.
The Presidential Palace in Kabul in a statement quoted President Karzai at his meeting with the Iranian leader as saying Kabul had always preferred expanded and brotherly relations with Tehran in all spheres of life.
President Rouhani told Karzai his country wanted peace and stability in Afghanistan because a stable Afghanistan was in the interest of Iran.
Karzai demanded visas of Afghan refugees in Iran should be extended and the families should not be repatriated against their will.
Rouhani assured Afghans living in Iran would not be forced into leaving the country, saying Afghans, who lacked refugee cards, should contact the Iranian authorities to obtain them.
Visas of 600,000 Afghans in Iran had reportedly expired Sept. 6, but an Afghan government delegation that visited Iran on return said they had been promised the visas would be extended by a year.
Iran’s Fars News Agency reported Rouhani told his Afghan counterpart that the will of the Iranian government and nation had always been focused on developing good and brotherly relations with its neighbors, specially Afghanistan, in order to meet the interests of the two sides.
The Iranian president expressed the hope that regional nations and governments could decide the fate of their own countries, and said, “The presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan and other countries sets the stage for extremism in the region.”
The Afghan president, for his part, underlined Iran’s important and influential role in promoting peace and stability in the region, specially in Afghanistan.
The SCO Summit began work in the Kyrgyz capital on Friday. Karzai is accompanied by his foreign minister and national security advisor and other high ranking officials on the visit.
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