Iran-Afghanistan ties should be managed carefully, says ex-ambassador

June 28, 2020 - 18:53

TEHRAN - Abolfazl Zohrevand, Iran’s former ambassador to Afghanistan, has said that Iran and Afghanistan should manage ties carefully and not just limit it to a document for “comprehensive cooperation”.

“Preparing and signing a strategic document is important. However, relations between the two countries should be managed precisely. All things should not be linked to the strategic document. We should manage relations and pay attention to volume of positive interaction to avoid propaganda,” Zohrevand told ISNA in an interview published on Sunday.

He described a recent visit by Mohammad Hanif Atmar, Afghanistan’s acting foreign minister, as “effective”.

“I believe this visit should have been conducted before incidents that occurred in the past two months,” he said.

The former ambassador to Kabul suggested that the two countries’ cooperation should continue unabatedly.

Atmar visited Tehran at the head of a high-ranking political, economic and security delegation on June 21-22.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Atmar discussed the latest developments in relations. They exchanged views on political, economic, security, cultural cooperation. The two chief diplomats also held talks on issues related to Afghan refugees in Iran.

The two sides agreed on a document for “comprehensive cooperation” which will be finalized in three months.

Zarif and Atmar issued a joint statement agreeing to expand regional cooperation and ensure border security among other issues between the two countries.

“Considering the significance of regional and international consensus on the establishment of peace and security in Afghanistan, the two sides stressed the need to strengthen the regional and international cooperation and consultations and activate the capacities available in the region with the purpose of facilitating the negotiations and supporting the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s establishment,” read part of the statement. 

Another part of the statement also said, “The two sides held detailed discussions about the recent incidents that have caused human fatalities, and the Iranian side informed the Afghan side of progress in investigations, and both sides agreed to adopt measures to prevent the occurrence of such incidents.”

Atmar’s visit to Tehran came a week after Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned Afghan Ambassador Abdolghafour Lival over actions of certain anti-Iran groups in Afghanistan.

Certain groups attacked the Iranian embassy in Kabul under the pretext that some Afghan migrants had drowned while trying to enter Iran illegally.

Afghan media outlets claimed that about 50 Afghan migrants had been beaten and thrown into a river in the border. Iranian political and border officials refuted the claim, saying the incident happened on the Afghan side of the Harirud River.

According to some reports, 18 of the migrants, including a 12-year old boy, were drowned in the river.

Iran and Afghanistan have launched a joint inquiry into the tragedy.

Iran has said it has extensive evidence that the incident has not happened on its borders. 

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for International and Legal Affairs Mohsen Baharvand has blamed illegal traffic of Afghan migrants for the human tragedy.

Iranian diplomats and border guards have carried out investigations which show the Iranian guards were not involved in the incident, Baharvand added.

“Our investigation does not show that the incident in Harirud was caused by interference of the Iranian border guards. However, we considered evidence of the Afghan side important and gave it to the related bodies,” Baharvand told IRNA in an interview published on June 7.

He said, “Due to Afghan armed forces’ fight against terrorism, Afghanistan has dismantled its border stations and this has caused lack of control over borders by Afghanistan. This issue has led to problems caused by human traffickers.”

Baharvand also said that Iran and Afghanistan will form a joint border committee.

The deputy foreign minister for international and legal affairs had said on May 27 that Iran and Afghanistan are in agreement on the incident.

Iranian and Afghan political delegations held their last round of talks on the incident in Kabul on May 26. 

Also, on June 3 a number of Afghan migrants were killed in a car accident in Yazd province. 

Following the incident, Ambassador Lival held a meeting with officials of the province. He said, “We believe that human traffickers and the driver are responsible for the incident.”

According to Lival, the driver has been identified and judicial authorities are striving to arrest him.

Iran has been hosting millions of Afghan refugees since the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979. 

According to a report by the UN Refugee Agency in December 2019, some 480,000 Afghan children in Iran are benefitting from education. In 2019 alone, 60,000 new Afghan students found a place in school in Iran.