Iran Favors Peaceful, United Afghanistan

Iran Favors Peaceful, United AfghanistanIran Favors Peaceful, United Afghanistan

President Hassan Rouhani described unity as the most essential need of Afghanistan and Middle East, and said Iran seeks peace and solidarity among Afghans.

Rouhani made the statement in a meeting with Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah in Tehran on Tuesday, IRNA reported.

Hailing the formation of a national unity government in Afghanistan as a “valuable achievement”, Rouhani said the initiative by Afghan leaders to build consensus among Afghan ethnic groups signifies their “maturity”.

“We hope the unity will be preserved and help accelerate the growth and development of Afghanistan,” he said.

Afghanistan’s national unity government formed out of a 2014 presidential crisis, when the leader and runner-up of elections, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah respectively, both claimed victory. After long negotiations, they agreed to create new posts in the government so Ghani can be the president and Abdullah be the “Chief Executive Officer”.

Rouhani said Iran seeks to further promote friendly relations and welcomes greater cooperation in economic, cultural and environmental fields, while Iran is ready to sign the comprehensive economic cooperation agreement with Afghanistan.

The president also stressed closer coordination and control on borders to strengthen economic exchanges and tackle drug production and smuggling that pose a threat to the region.

Pointing to deep bonds of friendship between the two countries, Rouhani said thousands of Afghan students are studying in Iran.

“We hope that these students, after graduation, would be able to serve the interests of their country well,” he said.

Abdullah praised Iran’s assistance for Afghanistan in the past years and said friendly relations pave the way for increasing cooperation.

The Afghan official said there is need for a joint commission working in the fields of water resources and environment, adding that Afghanistan has a strong desire to engage in cooperation with Iran against narcotics.

On Afghan refugees, he said the legal residence of Afghan nationals in Iran is a common desire and hoped the ground will soon be prepared for their safe and dignified repatriation.

Estimates show that over a decade and a half ago, three million Afghans were legally residing in the country, besides 1 million to 1.5 million non-registered refugees.

Since 2002, 5.8 million Afghan refugees have been repatriated from Iran, representing 20% of Afghanistan’s population.

Also on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a meeting with Abdullah that Iran supports Afghanistan’s efforts to secure peace through inclusive talks among all Afghan groups, Tasnim News Agency reported.

The top diplomat also called for the formulation of a “roadmap” in Iran-Afghanistan relations.

The two officials also stressed the need for combating terrorism and extremism.

The Afghan politician arrived in Tehran on Monday. Abdullah also met Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli on Tuesday.