Wednesday, 26 July, 2017

Iran’s Zarif heads to Afghanistan for senior talks

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Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif left Tehran for Kabul on Sunday morning for high-level talks with top Afghan officials.

“The Afghan government has officially invited Zarif to visit Kabul” Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi told the Tehran Times, adding the sides will exchange ideas on different issues such as environmental challenges, water cooperation, and bilateral trade.

Zarif is slated to sit down with his counterpart Salahuddin Rabani, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, and a number of other senior officials, said on Saturday.

Also, a meeting with former Afghan President Hamid Karzai is likely to take place, Ghasemi added.

The two capitals have ongoing negotiations on a number of issues, including water shortage, refugees, terrorism, border control, and drug smuggling.

Located in an arid and semi-arid region coupled with low precipitation over the past years, the two countries have disagreements over the Hirmand River, a main basin for Sistan- Baluchestan province, southeastern Iran.

Earlier this year, Abdullah called for expansion of cooperation with Iran, saying the future of ties is “bright”.

He also hailed Iran for hosting hundreds of thousands of Afghan immigrants.

In March, the United Nations praised Iran for generously hosting millions of asylum seekers and refugees, particularly those from Afghanistan.

Iran “has been exemplary in hosting refugees and keeping borders open,” said Sivanka Dhanapala, head of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees office in Tehran, on Thursday.

The UN official further hailed a 2015 decree by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which called on education administrators to allow all Afghan children, documented or not, to attend Iranian schools.

The directive prompted Iranian officials to build 15,000 new classrooms across the country to accommodate refugee children in the country, which, according to UN estimates, has the world’s fourth largest refugee population.

Tehran Times

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