Iran, Pak, Afghan seek non-interference in their affairs

This was the third trilateral summit of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan.

Islamabad: Against the backdrop of Western
sanctions imposed on Tehran for its nuclear programme and
Kabul`s concerns about US efforts to engage the Afghan
Taliban, the Presidents of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan
on Friday called for "non-interference and non-intervention" in
their internal affairs.

Following a trilateral summit, the leaders also pledged to
step up cooperation for eradicating terrorism and militancy
and said they would not allow "any threat emanating from their
respective territories against each other".

A joint statement issued after the summit said the three
Presidents had agreed to "proceed on the basis of mutual
interest, mutual respect, non-interference and
non-intervention in internal affairs".

Official sources said that US-led efforts to hold
negotiations with the Afghan Taliban and sanctions imposed by
Western powers in connection with Iran`s nuclear programme had
figured in both bilateral discussions between the Presidents
and the trilateral summit.

The statement said the three countries "reiterated their
full support for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned inclusive
process of peace and reconciliation" in Afghanistan.

Pakistan President Zardari and Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad assured Afghan President Hamid Karzai that they
would "extend full cooperation and stressed that any
initiative in this regard must have authentic Afghan
ownership", the statement said.

Though the statement made no mention of the sanctions
imposed on Tehran or reported Israeli threats to mount an
attack on Iran, the statement said the three countries would
not "allow any threat emanating from their respective
territories against each other".

They also agreed to "commence trilateral consultations on
an agreement in this regard", the statement said without
giving details.

TV news channels quoted their sources as saying that
Zardari had assured Ahmadinejad that Pakistan would not allow
the US or any other country to use its soil to mount an attack
on Iran.

There was no official word on the reports.

During a joint news conference with Ahmadinejad and
Karzai, Zardari said Pakistan was determined to forge ahead
with projects with Iran, like a multi-billion dollar gas
pipeline, and that relations between Islamabad and Tehran
cannot be "undermined by any international pressure of any
kind".

Ahmadinejad contended that problems were being foisted on
the countries of the region by external powers.
He did not identify these powers.

"We should stand together to advance and realise our
goals... We believe that problems of the region must be solved
regionally," Ahmadinejad added.

Zardari denied that Pakistan`s armed forces were involved
in backing militant groups in Afghanistan but acknowledged
that elements linked to the jihad against the erstwhile Soviet
Union could still be working with the rebels.

The joint statement said the three Presidents pledged to
enhance cooperation "for realising the shared aspiration of
their peoples for peace, security, stability and economic
prosperity".

They agreed to develop a framework for comprehensive
cooperation and to take "pragmatic steps for realising
mutually beneficial cooperation to promote stability, peace
and shared prosperity".
They further pledged to ensure "respect for sovereignty,
independence, unity and territorial integrity as enshrined in
the UN Charter".

Besides agreeing on contributing to development and
reconstruction in Afghanistan, the three leaders decided to
cooperate in combating narcotic drugs production and
trafficking and transnational organised crimes.

They also agreed to enhance three-way trade by
facilitation measures, including preferential tariffs, free
trade arrangements and barter trade.

They further agreed to enhance connectivity by promoting
project cooperation in infrastructure, road and rail links,
transport and communications and to develop mutually
beneficial cooperation in the energy, mining and agriculture
sectors.

The Presidents directed their Foreign Ministers to prepare
and coordinate a roadmap for trilateral cooperation for
submission to the next Summit to be held in Kabul.
They also directed the Interior Ministers to develop a
framework of cooperation, particularly in counter-terrorism,
counter-narcotics and border management within six months.

This was the third trilateral summit of Afghanistan, Iran
and Pakistan.

The three Presidents had met in June last year.
The next meeting will be held in Kabul by the end of
the year.

PTI

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