Kabul, Tehran agree to bolster security cooperation
KABUL (Pajhwok): President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday promised a long-term strategic cooperation pact would be signed soon with neighbouring Iran.
At a meeting with visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif, Ghani stressed cooperation on issues of counter-terrorism, drugs, refugees, economic links and transit trade.
A statement from the Presidential Palace said Ghani appreciated Iran’s role in bolstering regional cooperation. He said Afghanistan viewed Iran as a long-term partner and desired friendly bilateral relations.
On his maiden visit to Kabul after the unity government’s inauguration, the minister extended an invitation from President Hassan Rouhani to the Afghan leader.
Ghani accepted the invitation, saying he would visit Tehran soon to sign the cooperation agreement.
Zarif said Iran wanted to see stability in the neighbouring country, saying a prosperous Afghanistan was in the interest of the entire region. He stoutly supported the Afghan-led peace process.
Separately, the minister also met Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah, who also stressed deepener cooperation in effectively dealing with emerging security threats,
The CEO also pointed to the growing smuggling of narcotics and activities of the Islamic State (IS) in the region. He said the unity government was interested in further cementing ties with Iran.
Abdullah said both sides discussed trade, cultural and transit issues and the upcoming visit of Ashraf Ghani to Iran.
Access to Iranian railway lines and enhancement of trade ties through the Chabahar port would help boost Afghanistan’s economy, the CEO hoped, signing of the cooperation agreement was delayed due to security transition.
Zarif called terrorism a shared concern, saying the whole region was threatened by extremist elements. Iran was prepared to organise a joint force with regional countries to contain extremism, he said.
Poppy cultivation and opium smuggling was another major regional issue, he noted, alleging the international community had failed to pay proper attention to the problem.
He said Iran and Afghanistan should work together on the issue of refugees, their legal status and travel.
He lamented that despite a long presence of foreigners in Afghanistan, the regional situation had not improved. Iran had reservations about the objectives of foreign troops in Afghanistan, but would not intervene in Kabul’s internal affairs, he explained.
Ghani’s National Security Advisor Mohammad Hanif Atmar recently paid a two-day visit to Tehran and held fruitful talks with Iran’s political and security leadership.
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