Regional Coop. Can Address Security Challenges

Regional Coop. Can Address Security ChallengesRegional Coop. Can Address Security Challenges

Iran and Pakistan said regional states should work together to address security challenges facing the Middle East, IRNA reported.   

Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli and Pakistani Minister of States and Frontier Regions Abdul Quadir Baloch made the remarks at a joint press conference in Tehran on Monday.

"The two countries are determined to combat bandits, terrorists and smugglers," Rahmani Fazli said.  He said in his meeting with the Pakistani minister before the press conference they exchanged views about the ongoing four-way meeting between Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) that is hosted by the interior ministry to explore ways of dealing with the issue of Afghan refugees.

"We discussed how to organize the affairs related to Afghan refugees and asylum seekers residing in Iran and Pakistan either legally or illegally," he asserted.

He announced that experts of the two countries are set to hold meetings to find practical solutions to the issue, hoping that such meetings will help improve friendly ties as well as the security of both countries.  

Elsewhere, Rahmani Fazli described the current level of cooperation on security matters as acceptable and said the two sides have agreed to increase such cooperation, adding that it is essential to make planning and identify and correct shortcomings to achieve the goal.  

Pointing to the "good" relations between Tehran and Islamabad, the minister said the two countries have close cooperation in commercial, economic, social and cultural areas.  

Despite the voluntary return of hundreds of thousands of Afghan and Iraqi refugees to their countries over the past decade, the Islamic Republic of Iran still hosts one of the world's largest refugee populations.

Afghan refugees in Iran and Pakistan constitute the largest and most protracted refugee population under UNHCR's mandate. According to UN statistics, at January 1, 2014, Pakistan hosted 1,615,876 Afghan refugees and Iran hosted 840,158. The majority have been resident in both countries since fleeing the Soviet-Afghan War in the 1980s.