Iran FM: Afghanistan crisis cannot be resolved by military means
Baku� It is now crystal clear that Afghanistan problem cannot be resolved by military means and requires comprehensive and inclusive strategies, focusing on the task in hand and refraining from injecting extraneous political agendas, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Friday.
Zarif made the remarks addressing the 7th Ministerial Conference of Heart of Asia Process underway in the Azerbaijani capital, Baku.
Following is the full text of Zarif's speech at the Conference:
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Allow me to begin by extending my sincere appreciation to the people and government of the Republic of Azerbaijan for their gracious hospitality and to President Aliyev and President Ghani for their opening address.
Since we met last year, significant effort has been exerted by Afghanistan, but the threat of foreign terrorist groups and the increasing influx of Daesh terrorist elements into the country have exacerbated existing challenges. While Daesh is pursuing a dangerous agenda of generating an artificial sectarian rift in Afghanistan, the response of President Ghani and his government has been prudent and far-sighted.
The threat of extremist violence and terror requires our resolute unified response. Two years ago in Islamabad, we proposed to develop a joint counter-terrorism strategy to serve as an operational framework for the concerted efforts of the Heart of Asia countries against terrorism. We are looking forward to considering of the draft strategy by governmental experts and senior officials for adoption here, which would provide a solid foundation for our cooperation against terrorism and violent extremism.
Having exhibited our determination to fight against extremist terror, and relying on the experience gained from our regional cooperation against Daesh in Iraq and Syria, we stand ready to cooperate in this common endeavor with partners in the Istanbul process.
The challenge of extremist violence and terror in Afghanistan cannot be resolved through strategies and methods, including foreign military build-ups, that have historically provided rallying grounds for further recruitment by extremist demagogues. It is now crystal clear, that the problem cannot be resolved by military means and requires comprehensive and inclusive strategies, focusing on the task in hand and refraining from injecting extraneous political agendas. We should all accept that no exclusive process can possibly produce a sustainable deal. Peace can only be achieved when all of us act in tandem in a process owned and led by the government of Afghanistan and with the participation of all people of Afghanistan. In this line, it is imperative for all of us in the Istanbul process to synergize our efforts, mobilizing every resource at our disposal, in order to help the National Unity Government of Afghanistan to promote a comprehensive peace process .
Bearing in mind the role close linkage between narcotics trafficking and terrorism, we are seriously disturbed that cultivation of opium in Afghanistan has almost doubled during last year. We in Iran are doing our best in collaboration with Afghanistan to interdict the drugs going to markets in Europe. But we have our limits and we don't see sufficient support on the part of the intended recipients of these deadly substances. Let me underline that it is much less costly to share the burden in efforts to contain the problem at its roots than putting their own people, who are the intended lucrative consumers, at risk of paying with their health and lives.
To reduce the role of informal economy fueled by drugs and controlled by criminal gangs and terrorist groups in Afghanistan, we need to help the formal Afghan economy flourish and grow. This would require access to open sea to make the export of Afghanistan's abundant natural resources and minerals to world market economically feasible. To this end, we are facilitating access by Afghanistan to our transit routes as well as the strategic port of Chabahar.
Following the signing of the trilateral transit agreement between Iran, India and Afghanistan, the first phase of Chabahar port development plan will become operational next Sunday. We invite other partners from our region and beyond to invest in the development of Chabahar and its related projects. Construction of Chabahar�Zahedan railway and its extension to Mashhad and Afghan border can further facilitate Afghanistan's access to international markets.
Afghanistan also needs human resources and we are offering education and training opportunities to students and technicians from Afghanistan. This year close to 400,000 Afghans receive primary and secondary education in Iran and nearly 12,000 attend college. If international assistance is provided, we could further expand these programs.
Let me conclude by assuring the people and the government of Afghanistan that Iran will continue to stand with them and help them build a safe, stable, prosperous and progressive Afghanistan.
I Thank you for your attention
Source: Islamic Republic News Agency