Iran urges regional cooperation to promote ‘calm’ in Afghanistan

TEHRAN (AFP): Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi called Thursday for regional cooperation, especially between the Islamic republic and Pakistan, to promote “security and calm” in Afghanistan.

He made the remarks during a meeting in Tehran with Islamabad’s top diplomat Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who also met his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

Iran and Pakistan are the top host countries of Afghan refugees in the world.

The Taliban seized Afghanistan’s capital on August 15 as US-led troops withdrew and the Afghan army collapsed.

“Regional countries, especially Iran and Pakistan, can through cooperation prepare the ground for interaction between active ethnicities and groups to establish security and calm in Afghanistan,” Raisi was quoted by the government’s official website as saying.

“The presence of Americans and foreigners not only fails to bring about security but causes problems,” he added.

Analysts say the Taliban’s advances have put neighbouring Iran on edge, but the majority Shiite Islamic republic is taking a pragmatic stance on the hardline Sunni group’s resurgence.

Tehran never recognised the Taliban during its first period ruling Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001, and the two sides had tense ties.

But Iran has stressed in recent months that the Taliban must be “part of a future solution” in Afghanistan.

Its foreign ministry on Monday called on “all groups and political parties” in Afghanistan to “refrain from using force” and engage in talks to establish an inclusive government.