ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Iran on Monday underscored the need for a politically negotiated settlement of the Afghan conflict, besides calling for regional solutions for local problems.
This agreement between the two neighbours was renewed during Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif’s daylong trip to Tehran for meetings with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Dr Javad Zarif.
The Foreign Office said in a statement at the conclusion of Mr Asif’s visit that the two foreign ministers “agreed that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and a politically negotiated settlement was imperative for lasting peace in Afghanistan. … regional countries have vital stakes in stability in Afghanistan and should play a more proactive role in the peace efforts”.
Tehran was the second destination in FM Asif’s regional trip for ‘political consultations’ on Afghanistan after US President Trump last month unveiled the new regional policy that focuses more on kinetic operations for militarily stifling Taliban insurgency than seeking a negotiated outcome. The foreign minister last week visited Beijing, where leaders agreed with the Pakistani position that “continued efforts for a politically negotiated settlement” were needed.
FM Asif meets Rouhani, Zarif on a daylong trip to Tehran
The foreign minister will meet his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session. Turkey is another country whose leadership Mr Asif will be ‘consulting’ on Afghanistan. After getting the backing of major countries in the region for a peaceful resolution of the Afghan dispute, he would undertake an overdue visit to Washington for talks with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on future engagement.
Mr Asif had in an interview with Iranian newswire Irna before his departure said that the core objective of his trip was “to evolve some consensus amongst the neighbours of Afghanistan, because peace in Afghanistan will have a comprehensive effect on the rest of the region”.
He further said: “It is very important for us, it is very important for the region that we evolve consensus over different problems.”
The Iranian foreign minister deliberated on bilateral cooperation in establishing peace and security in Afghanistan through regional and multilateral political talks, Irna reported.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, in his meeting with the visiting Pakistani foreign minister, denounced foreign interference in regional issues and said that peace and security of the region must be the responsibility of the countries here, according to Press TV.
He said the Afghan conflict can be resolved through regional approach and not by external powers.
Bilateral issues were also discussed during the visit.
Mr Asif said: “Pakistan is committed to further strengthening relations with Iran and to working closely for promoting peace, security and development in the region” and “expressed satisfaction over increasing engagement between Pakistan and Iran while emphasising the need to focus on promoting trade, economic cooperation and connectivity.”
The two sides, during the bilateral talks, discussed development of ties in the banking and transportation sectors, besides cooperating against terrorism.
Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2017