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Iran, Afghanistan to finalize strategic document soon

The Iran deputy foreign minister underlined the importance of intensive consultations between the two countries, saying Iran and Afghanistan are neighbors and share common interests and concerns.

“Afghanistan has been involved in many problems and the Iranian people and government have always stood by the Afghan people and government,” he told Iran Press on the sidelines of his visit to neighboring Afghanistan.

Araghchi traveled to Afghanistan to hold high-level talks with Afghan officials. He met with his Afghan counterpart Mirwais Nab, Afghan National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib, Abdullah Abdullah, the head of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, and former Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Araghchi pointed to the connection between Tehran and Kabul, saying that peace and stability in neighboring Afghanistan directly affect Iran.

“This association shows that peace and stability in Afghanistan is peace and stability in Iran and that the well-being of the Afghan people is directly related to the progress of the Iranian people, and this is a strategic fact,” the deputy foreign minister said.

He added, “I think all the people of Afghanistan acknowledge that the source of the country’s problems in the last 40 years has come from different places and from other countries.”

According to Araghchi, the damage that Afghanistan has suffered over the last 40 years has not been from Iran.

Araghchi said he had traveled to Kabul to discuss a comprehensive strategic document between Iran and Afghanistan, and hoped that this round of talks in Kabul would be the final round, as good progress had been made on the document. The Iranian deputy foreign minister said that the strategic document between Iran and Afghanistan consists of 5 parts, 4 of which have been finalized, and only the security part of the document remains, which will be finalized soon.

“We hope for a final conclusion on the Comprehensive Strategic Document today,” Araghchi noted.

According to the deputy foreign minister, the strategic document will outline the prospect of long-term relations between Iran and Afghanistan and will play an important role in strengthening the two countries’ relations.

Araghchi also underlined the need for the Afghan peace talks in Doha to be protected from foreign interference.

“The Afghan peace talks in Doha are negotiations between the Afghans themselves and no country should interfere in the details, and ideally, the talks should be inside Afghanistan and of course, only Afghans should decide in this regard,” the top diplomat pointed out.

‘Iran dubious about U.S. intention in Afghan peace talks’

In a separate interview with state news agency IRNA, Araghchi also said Iran is dubious about the United States’ intention in Afghan peace talks.

Araghchi said the U.S. intervention in other countries is intended to secure the U.S interests and advance their agenda for the other countries.

Iran welcomes the efforts of any country which aims to help the peace process in Afghanistan, the Iranian official said, however, noting that he is doubtful about the U.S. good faith.

Iran-Afghanistan relations were given a boost on Thursday after Iran inaugurated the Khaf-Herat railway, which links eastern Iran to western Afghanistan. The railway was welcomed by both sides as a step toward deepening ties between Tehran and Kabul.

Araghchi said the railway will lead to economic prosperity on both sides, while Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif described it as a border bridge.

“The Khaf-Herat railway’s significance is not only for Iran & Afghanistan, but for the greater region. As a gateway that’ll boost trade and people-to-people exchanges, it will also contribute to regional stability & development. Turning our frontiers into bridges is a priority,” Zarif said in a tweet.

His Afghan counterpart Mohammed Haneef Atmar responded to Zarif’s tweet by saying that the railway serves peace and stability in the region.

“I agree with my brother @JZarif and believe it is a key piece of our regional connectivity vision for peace, stability and shared prosperity. We thank Iran and appreciate support from Italy,” Atmar tweeted.

The 222-kilometers-long Khaf-Herat railway is part of the Iran-Afghanistan rail corridor. The project started in the fiscal year of 2007-2008, connects Iran’s eastern city of Khaf to Afghanistan’s western city of Ghoryan.

During Abdullah’s recent visit to Iran, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that the connection of the Iranian and Afghan railways would strengthen economic and trade cooperation between the two countries.

The Iranian deputy foreign minister’s visit to Afghanistan came after the spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry paid a visit to Afghanistan. Earlier in October, Abdullah traveled to Iran to seek support for the Afghan peace talks. The Afghan peace negotiator met with several high-ranking Iranian officials including President Rouhani.

“The leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran consider the success of peace in Afghanistan to be in the interest of the region and the world and they comprehensively support a peace process that is led and managed by Afghanistan,” Abdullah said after he held talks with Iranian officials.

Rouhani expressed hope that lasting peace and security will be established in Afghanistan and that the people of this country will live in peace.

“It is important that the people of Afghanistan achieve a real peace after years of war and conflict to maintain their achievements, and the solution to this problem is political talks and intra-Afghan negotiations,” the Iranian president said during the meeting with Abdullah.