Ankara, Islamabad and Kabul acknowledge Tehran’s role in hosting Afghan refugees

April 24, 2021 - 19:51

TEHRAN - Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan have issued a joint statement appreciating Iran’s role in hosting Afghan refugees amid renewed efforts to establish peace in Afghanistan.

The joint statement was adopted at the conclusion of a trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan held in Istanbul on Friday.

The three foreign ministers “acknowledged the role of the regional and neighboring countries, in particular Pakistan and Iran in hosting Afghan refugees for more than four decades and called for creating conducive conditions in Afghanistan for their voluntary, safe, dignified, expeditious and sustainable repatriation through a well-resourced plan,” according to the joint statement.

They also called on the international community to assist the host countries in providing the essential needs of the refugees.

The foreign ministers “urged international community to continue to assist host countries in taking care of the essential needs of Afghan refugees and to provide support to the repatriation and reintegration efforts of the Government of Afghanistan,” the statement noted.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar, and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi held a trilateral meeting on Afghanistan in Istanbul on April 23.

They discussed the prospect of advancing the Afghan peace process ahead of a high-level meeting expected to take place in Istanbul. They said the Istanbul Conference is “aimed at giving momentum to the ongoing Afghanistan Peace Negotiations.”

The three foreign ministers noted that the Istanbul Conference had been postponed after extensive discussions with all relevant parties with a view to holding the conference when conditions for making meaningful progress would be more favorable.

The Afghan peace talks are not moving smoothly. The talks were due to go ahead on April 24 and run through May 4, known officially as the Istanbul Conference on the Afghan Peace Process, and the co-conveners said they were committed to supporting a “sovereign, independent and unified Afghanistan,” according to the UN.

But the talks were postponed.

Iran had said it will attend the Istanbul meeting provided that the Islamic Republic’s principles are observed.

“We carefully examine the issues related to this matter. Iran has always stood by the government and people of Afghanistan,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said.

He added, “For us, a stable and completely secure Afghanistan is a high priority. As we have said before, we emphasize that the Afghan peace dialogue should be an inter-Afghan dialogue, and Iran has always been prepared as a neighbor to make every effort to achieve this.”

The foreign ministers of Turkey, Pakistan and Afghanistan also recognized that sustainable peace can be achieved only through an inclusive Afghan-led and Afghan-owned political process that aims for a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire along with an inclusive political settlement to end the conflict in Afghanistan.

Diplomatic efforts by regional countries to establish peace in Afghanistan have intensified in the past few weeks as the United States announced that it will withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by September 11, causing concerns over further instability in the war-torn country.

These efforts were done against a backdrop of international debate over the United States’ upcoming withdrawal from Afghanistan. U.S. President Joe Biden announced last week that the U.S. should end “forever war” in Afghanistan.

“We went to Afghanistan because of a horrific attack that happened 20 years ago. That cannot explain why we should remain there in 2021,” the U.S. president said. “We were attacked, we went to war with clear goals,” he noted. “We achieved those objectives. Bin Laden is dead and al-Qaida is degraded in Afghanistan, and it's time to end this forever war.”

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