Iranian president undertakes first visit to Afghanistan

Dubai, Aug 13: Close on the heels of high-profile visit of Indian foreign minister Yashwant Sinha, Iran's reformist president Mohammad Khatami today began a visit to Kabul, to forge stronger ties with Afghanistan.

Dubai, Aug 13: Close on the heels of high-profile
visit of Indian foreign minister Yashwant Sinha, Iran's
reformist president Mohammad Khatami today began a visit to Kabul, to forge stronger ties with Afghanistan.

The visits assume significance as both India and Iran
were staunch supporters of the coalition that opposed the
Pakistan-backed Taliban government, brought down by a us-led
front last year.

While Khatami said that his visit aimed at "bringing
Iran's support for the reconstruction, security and stability
of Afghanistan," Kabul's foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah
said his country would seek to dispel tehran's apprehensions
about presence of US troops in the region.

"Afghanistan will spare no efforts to convince Iran, the
long time foe of Washington, that the presence of us troops
there is no threat to its western neighbour."

Abdullah defended the us military presence in Afghanistan
and said it did not prejudice the national interest of any
third country, including Iran which has no diplomatic ties
with Washington since 1979.

"US forces will remain in Afghanistan until all the
threats posed by al Qaeda, which Washington accuses of being
behind the September 11 attack on American landmarks, are
fully repelled," he said in an interview to Irna.

Tehran has pledged a grant of 500 million dollars over
the next five years for afghan reconstruction. Another issue
of concern is the presence of around 50 lakh afghan refugees
on its soil, an Irna report said.

Bureau Report

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