Nov 24, 2020 18:52 UTC
  •  UN should facilitate intra-Afghan talks; Iran ready for cooperation: Zarif

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the United Nations must play a leading role in facilitating intra-Afghan talks, expressing the Islamic Republic’s readiness for cooperation in this regard.

According to Press TV, speaking at the virtual 2020 Afghanistan Conference in Geneva on Tuesday, Zarif said dialogue is owned and led by Afghans themselves and should include the Taliban.

He emphasized that the talks should preserve the post-2001 achievements, which include “the democratic Constitution, the right of the [Afghan] people to self-determination through elections, the rights of religious and ethnic minorities, the rights of women; and combating terrorism.”

Elsewhere in his speech, Zarif said Afghans have endured bloodshed perpetrated primarily from the outside for over 40 years, while military approaches have failed to bring about peace in the war-ravaged country.

“The presence of foreign troops has been a lingering problem. A responsible exit of foreign troops from Afghanistan—with a smooth and effective assumption of their duties by the Afghan security forces—will be a positive step toward a sustainable peace.”

Zarif further described poverty and unemployment as “fertile” grounds for extremism, terrorism, and drug trafficking and said, “Peace will not be sustainable if Afghans have to struggle to simply survive.”

He pointed to Iran’s hosting of over three million Afghan refugees in spite of the savage US economic war against the Islamic Republic. He said some 470,000 Afghan students are studying in schools and 22,000 others are being trained by universities across the country.

Iran connects Afghanistan to the outside world through the port of Chabahar, located in the southeastern Iranian province of Sistan and Baluchestan, he said, adding that the Khaf-Herat railway would be inaugurated in the coming days.

Zarif said Iran’s power plants provide electricity for Afghanistan and noted that the country can do far more in the field of energy. 

“But instead of facilitating, the US—through its economic terrorism targeting Iranians and Afghans alike—impedes such cooperation,” the foreign minister said.

He criticized international donors for pursuing a “seriously flawed approach” to Afghanistan, urging the global community to put the Afghan people before other considerations.