Iran, Afghanistan Will Soon Start Negotiations on Friendship Pact
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Presidents of Iran and Afghanistan issued a joint statement on Sunday, commissioning foreign ministers of both countries to come up with a comprehensive friendship and cooperation pact which would guarantee long-term mutual interests of the two neighboring nations.
The Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced Tehran’s outright opposition to any type of foreign presence in the region, particularly in the Muslim country of Afghanistan.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran is opposed to the presence of any foreign force in the region, the Middle East, and the Persian Gulf,” added the Iranian president in his Sunday meeting with visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
“We are concerned about the tensions brought about by the presence of foreign forces in the region and believe that all foreign forces should leave the region and the security of Afghanistan must be ensured to that country’s people,” said Rouhani.
He further stressed the sense of "good neighborliness and fraternity" between the two countries and said his administration places emphasis on developing relations with all of Iran’s neighbors, particularly the Muslim state of Afghanistan, and believes that the welfare and security of the Afghan people can contribute to regional cooperation.
President Hamid Karazi, too, hailed Iran's principled stands towards Afghanistan, saying the people and government of his country hold the Iranian nation and government in high respect and esteem.
President Karzai also noted that Iran and Afghanistan would soon begin negations on a comprehensive friendship and cooperation pact, expressing certainty that the Afghan nation would wholeheartedly welcome the pact.
At the end of the meeting, Iran and Afghanistan issued a joint statement assigning the two countries’ foreign ministers to work on a comprehensive pact for cooperation which would guarantee long-term mutual interests of the two countries.
Iran is strongly opposed to the presence of foreign forces in the regional countries, saying this only aggravates the security situation as has been exemplified by more than a decade of occupation of Afghanistan by US-led forces and that of Iraq which ended two years ago, which has only resulted in more violence and insecurity in both those countries.
All foreign forces in Afghanistan are to leave the country by the end of 2014, but the US has discussed plans with Kabul to leave about 8,000 of its 47,000 troops there post-2014 by signing the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA).
The deal has already been approved by the Grand Council of Afghanistan, Loya Jirga, which consists of Afghan tribal elders and other leaders. But Karzai has said he still has important demands and that he wants to wait until after April presidential election to conclude the deal.
Karzai has admitted there was a lack of trust between him and the Americans. He said: "I don't trust them and they don't trust me. The last 10 years has shown this to me. I have had fights with them and they have had propaganda against me."
The proposed accord would allow the US to keep up to nine military bases in Afghanistan--and mandate that it fund the Afghan government's security forces through at least 2024, at an expected cost of some $6 billion a year.