No insecurity along Iran's border with Afghanistan, Tehran says 

July 10, 2021 - 18:17

TEHRAN - Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh has offered assurances about the security of the Iran-Afghanistan border amid ongoing clashes between the Taliban and the Afghan government along the border. 

In a statement on Saturday, Khatibzadeh said there is no insecurity along Iran's borders with Afghanistan thanks to the efforts of Iranian border guards.

“Thanks to the efforts of our zealous border guards, the borders of the Islamic Republic of Iran are secure and peaceful, and there is no insecurity along our country's borders with Afghanistan,” Khatibzadeh said in response to a question about the situation of Iran's borders and border crossings with Afghanistan following the recent developments along the borders.

“Considering the clashes that erupted at Islam-Qala and Abu Nasr Farahi customs facilities inside the Afghan territory, a number of Afghan staff members entered into the Iranian soil,” the spokesman said.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran will take the necessary measures according to the rules and regulations and based on its border agreements with Afghanistan and within the framework of good neighborliness principle,” he added.

The Taliban has attacked the Afghan government’s positions along the Iran-Afghanistan borders, taking control of at least two border crossings. The group’s advances pushed some Afghan government forces to flee to Iran. 

The Afghan government has called on Iran to make arrangements for the return of its border troops to Kabul, and by accepting this request, Iran is preparing a direct flight to Kabul to return the troops, according to Nour News. 

Citing a source in the Iranian armed forces, the news website said that the Afghan government has asked Tehran for help in returning its border guards, who took refuge in Iran on Thursday following a Taliban attack on the Islam Qala border crossing.

“Kabul officials have called on Iran to make arrangements for the return of the troops to Kabul, and Iran is preparing a direct flight to Kabul to repatriate the troops, given its humanitarian approach,” the source said.

The Islamic Republic of Iran, meanwhile, hosted a meeting of delegations from the parties involved in Afghanistan on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss issues between them, which ended with a joint statement.

Tehran, with the support of the legitimate government of Afghanistan, has always called for the warring parties to avoid unrest and war, and has done its utmost to resolve the country's problems through political dialogue between Afghan groups.

The first round of intra-Afghan talks among the heads of delegations representing the Taliban group and prominent figures supporting the Republic system in Afghanistan wrapped up in Tehran with a speech by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and a six-article communique.

In his speech at the final meeting of the first round of intra-Afghan talks in Tehran, which was held at the Foreign Ministry's Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS), Foreign Minister Zarif thanked both delegations for giving priority to the peace, convenience and welfare of the Afghan people in their talks, according to a statement issued by the Iranian Foreign Ministry. 

“Courage in peace is more important than courage in war, because peace needs sacrifice and forgiveness, needs ignoring one's maximal demands, and paying attention to the other side's demands, especially in these talks where there is no other side, and both sides are brothers seeking peace and calm for the Afghan nation,” Zarif said.

The Iranian foreign minister said a nation that has been in pain and suffering for forty years has every right to be opposed to war.

“What I ask you is that use this opportunity and end the war in Afghanistan as soon as possible, and provide the Afghan people with the chance to develop,” he added.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is always ready to facilitate your talks in any way you prefer,” Zarif noted.

Before the Iranian foreign minister's speech at the conclusion of talks, Yunus Qanuni as the representative of the delegation of those supporting the Republic system and Abbas Stanikzai as the representative of the Taliban delegation expressed their views about the Tehran summit.

In their comments, the two representatives supported the other side's round-up of the peace talks.

Iranian diplomatic efforts were welcomed by neighboring Pakistan, which also shares some of Iran’s concerns about Afghanistan. Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said, “We welcome Iran's engagement with Afghan parties so that a political solution can be reached through dialogue.”

In response to media questions about the visit of Taliban and Afghan government delegations to Tehran, he said, “Pakistan considers Tehran's role in the Afghan peace process important.”

According to Chaudhri, Iran, like Pakistan, is Afghanistan's neighbor and hosts millions of Afghan refugees.

The Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesperson expressed hope that the Afghan parties would seize this opportunity to reach a collective, comprehensive political solution.

Last week, Iranian President-elect Ayatollah Ebrahim Raisi and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke by phone discussing the recent developments in neighboring Afghanistan.

During the phone conversation, which came at the initiative of the Pakistani prime minister, Imran Khan voiced concern over the conflict in Afghanistan. 

“In the regional context, the PM expressed concern at the worsening security situation in Afghanistan, & cautioned that the latest developments could lead to serious repercussions for both Pakistan & Iran, resulting in an influx of refugees towards the bordering areas of the two countries. Prime Minister Imran Khan strongly underscored the imperative of a negotiated political solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. Both sides emphasized the need to continue facilitating an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned inclusive political settlement,” according to a statement put out by the premier office.

Imran Khan also was quoted by Iranian media as saying, “we are concerned about the situation in Afghanistan and its involvement in a longstanding war.”

He described the political solution as the best solution to Afghanistan but said it is difficult to achieve this solution in the current situation.

Ayatollah Raisi also expressed concern over the situation in Afghanistan and said, “Afghanistan's security is important to us and this security must be established by Afghans.”

Afghanistan has become an issue of concern for both Tehran and Islamabad as the conflict there worsened in the wake of foreign troops' withdrawal. In recent weeks, Iran has intensified its diplomatic efforts to de-escalate tensions in war-torn Afghanistan. To this end, a number of Iranian diplomats traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In late June, the Iranian foreign minister's special envoy for Afghanistan traveled to Kabul and left the Afghan capital for Islamabad for talks with Pakistani officials on the latest security developments in Afghanistan and then returned to Kabul again to resume his meetings with the country's political and defense officials.

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