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Kabul calls on Iran to help with stabilisation

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-03-09

Kabul has called on neighbouring Iran to help the United States and other nations in their efforts to stabilise war-racked Afghanistan, which is still struggling to end a violent Taliban-led militant insurgency.

Afghanistan called on Monday on neighbouring Iran to help the United States and other world powers in stabilising the violence-racked nation.

"We definitely want the support and cooperation of the Islamic Republic of Iran," Afghan Foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta told AFP on the sidelines of a meeting of foreign ministers from the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO).

"We sincerely and honestly appreciate the participation of Iran in any international conference that helps stability in Afghanistan," he said referring to a meeting to be held on March 31 on the situation in the country.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Friday that Iran would be invited to the meeting, in the latest overture by the administration of US President Barack Obama towards its arch-foe.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi echoed the Afghan call, describing Iran as an "important regional player" and said it would be "useful" if it took part in the March 31 conference.

"I would urge and request my Iranian friends to consider participating," he said.


Border tribes sign deal with Pakistan authorities

Tribesmen signed a deal with Pakistani authorities on Monday, promising not to shelter militants in a tribal area on the Afghan border where the military said the Taliban had been defeated.

The 28-point deal came as Taliban fighters released five Pakistani soldiers who were kidnapped when the military launched a massive operation in Bajaur six months ago and after five rebels were killed in clashes with troops.

Pakistan's civilian government launched the offensive last August, largely in response to US pressure to do more to stop militants attacking foreign troops in Afghanistan from safe havens over the border.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said at the ECO meeting that the "policy of occupation and interference by powers from outside the region has borne no results" in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The presidents of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan are due to meet on Tuesday ahead of an ECO summit focusing on the global financial crisis, the Fars news agency reported.

ECO was founded in 1985 by Iran, Pakistan and Turkey to address regional economic issues. Its members also include Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and other regional countries.

Date created : 2009-03-09

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