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Afghan-Iranian officials move to strengthen relations and tighten border controls



(Last Updated On: June 23, 2020)

Afghanistan’s acting minister of foreign affairs Mohammed Haneef Atmar, and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif have agreed to take all necessary measures to prevent illegal border crossings and human trafficking by stepping up controls over the shared boundary.

This decision was announced late Monday night in a joint statement issued by the two officials as Atmar wrapped up a two-day official visit to Afghanistan’s neighboring country.

According to the statement, the security-frontier committee and the committee on the legalization of residence of nationals of the two countries on each other’s soil were assigned to adopt the necessary measures to ensure the security of the common border in order to prevent illegal travel, human trafficking, and smuggling.

“In this regard, the two sides highlighted the need for the Afghan security forces to be present in the border outposts emptied in Afghanistan, and for the Islamic Republic of Iran to facilitate issuing visas,” read the statement.

Both sides also stressed the “need for the border guards of the two countries to monitor and control the common borders strictly and effectively, and undertook to prevent illegal border-crossing, human trafficking, and smuggling of drugs and any other items into the territory of each other.”

An agreement was also reached regarding mutual cooperation in observing international health regulations at the border crossings.

Numerous meetings were held during the two-day visit where a wide range of issues was discussed, including the expansion of relations between the two countries in various fields within the framework of eight working committees.

This includes committees on comprehensive documentation, legalization of residence of nationals, border cooperation, labor, water, cultural cooperation, energy, and health issues.

The two sides stated that in order to institutionalize and organize sound bilateral relations, Afghanistan and Iran would proceed with negotiations to finalize a comprehensive document on strategic cooperation and have this document finalized and ready to be signed within three months.

Iran also stated that it welcomed the peace process efforts and expressed readiness to help facilitate intra-Afghan negotiations. They also stated they would be willing to host such negotiations.

Both sides emphasized the need to reduce violence in Afghanistan “with the purpose of building trust and creating a positive atmosphere in order to launch the intra-Afghan negotiations as soon as possible, achieve a lasting ceasefire, and establish sustainable peace.”

“Considering the significance of regional and international consensus on the establishment of peace and security in Afghanistan, the two sides stressed the need to strengthen the regional and international cooperation and consultations and activate the capacities available in the region with the purpose of facilitating the negotiations and supporting the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s establishment,” read the statement.

Both countries agreed that there was also a need to carry out joint programs in promoting common areas including that of the heritage of language, religion, and culture, as well as educational cooperation.

Detailed discussions were also held on recent incidents that resulted in human fatalities.

This comes after tension heightened early last month after reports emerged that Iranian border guards had allegedly beaten and thrown about 50 Afghan migrants into the Harirud river.

Iran has refuted these claims and said the incident, which resulted in the death of some migrants, happened on the Afghanistan side of the river.

The statement, however, indicated that Iran had informed the Afghan side of progress around ongoing investigations, and both sides agreed to adopt measures to prevent any recurrence of such an incident.

Discussions on boosting economic ties were also held and the two sides agreed on a number of cooperation initiatives in the transport and transportation sectors. Chabahar Port was highlighted as being the “driving engine of trade-transit cooperation in the region.”

Both sides agreed there was a need to provide welfare facilities at border crossings and that joint action was needed as a matter of urgency to “repair the infrastructure and the asphalt road for motor vehicles at the Dogharoun border crossing.”

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Director-General for West-Asia Seyed Rasoul Mousavi hailed Atmar’s visit.

“As an expert, I would like to say the visit of FM Atmar to Tehran was a very important and comprehensive one,” Mousavi Tweeted on Tuesday.

“Negotiations & agreements were reached in all areas. The joint statement of the visit is cold water on the fire of the ill-wishers of Iran & Afghanistan relations,” he added.

Iran has over the past 40 years hosted millions of Afghan refugees. According to Iran, it currently hosts about 1.5 million Afghan refugees who are living in the country illegally, in addition to about 800,000 documented

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IEA hoping to increase the number of soldiers to as many as 200,000 by end of this solar year



(Last Updated On: March 30, 2023)

The Islamic Emirate’s ministry of defense says it plans to increase the number of the country’s national army soldiers from 150,000 to between 170,000 and 200,000 in the current solar year.

Qari Fasihuddin Fetrat, the army chief of staff, said in an interview that the IEA has all the military equipment from the previous government and that the army is ready to fight any potential threat.

“Inshallah, with this number, we can protect the entire territory of Afghanistan, but there is a need for other forces, and we have decided to increase the number of soldiers,” he said.

“In the current [solar] year, we have decided to increase the number of soldiers from 150,000 to 170,000 and slowly it will reach 200,000.”

Fetrat has also stated that reports about the formation of opposition groups outside the country, to stand against the IEA government, are a “dream”.

He emphasized that foreign countries exaggerate the presence of Daesh in Afghanistan and that the group does not have a strong presence in the country.

“Some of the acts of destruction that are carried out in Afghanistan are also carried out in many advanced countries, but despite that, the Islamic Emirate neutralized their efforts and plans,” he said.

“You can see that the security which is in Afghanistan today may not be in Washington,” he added.

In addition, the IEA’s army chief of staff also criticized the US for violating Afghanistan’s air space.

“We are trying to reach a level where the occupation of Afghanistan’s air sovereignty will end and it will be given to the Islamic Emirate,” said Fetrat.

According to him, in addition to the two military units in Bagram and Badakhshan, there are eight military corps including the Central Army Corps in the provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, Paktia, Laghman, Kunduz and Balkh.

He also said soldiers, who worked under the former government, are “perform duties within the framework of the defense ministry.”

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IEA downplays SCO concerns about threats emanating from Afghanistan



(Last Updated On: March 30, 2023)

Responding to concerns voiced by the national security advisors of some regional countries at this week’s Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting in India, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) on Thursday reiterated promises that Afghanistan’s soil would not be used against any country.

The spokesman for the Islamic Emirate Bilal Karimi said all of Afghanistan was secure and well managed by security forces and that the IEA will not allow “anyone to interfere with security”.

This comes after Russia’s National Security Adviser Nikolai Patrushev said at Wednesday’s SCO meeting in India that the situation in Afghanistan is not only tense, but has created dangers for the security of SCO member countries.

“It is important to closely monitor the situation in Afghanistan, because the situation in this country is unstable and despite the continued rule of the Taliban (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan) over this country, this situation has continued. Illegal arms and drug trafficking has created illegal immigration,” said Nikolai Patrushev.

The IEA has repeatedly rejected concerns about security threats from Afghanistan, including the threat of Daesh.

Patrushev also said at the meeting that the US and its allies had a responsibility towards Afghanistan and rebuilding its economy. However he warned that any US or NATO military presence in the region would not be tolerated.

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US Defense Secretary has ‘no regrets’ over chaotic US withdrawal



(Last Updated On: March 30, 2023)

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has testified before the House Armed Services Committee and told lawmakers that he has “no regrets” about how the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan was carried out.

On Wednesday, Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee grilled the defense secretary during a hearing to review the Pentagon’s fiscal year 2024 budget.

“I support [President Biden’s] decision. I don’t have any regrets,” Austin said.

GOP lawmakers also criticized what they said was a lack of accountability among civilian or military leaders for how the Afghanistan withdrawal played out.

Asked if anyone in the Pentagon’s chain of command was ever held accountable for the collapse of the 20-year war effort in Afghanistan, Austin replied, “To my knowledge, no.”

Austin, appearing with Joint Chiefs of Staff head Gen. Mark Milley, told the panel he was proud of the “tremendous work and sacrifices” that the US troops made throughout the war.

Wednesday’s testimony came amid an ongoing investigation into the chaotic withdrawal of US troops by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul.

McCaul has repeatedly requested documents from the State Department on issues relating to the lead up to the withdrawal in August 2021. However, the State Department has failed to supply the documents, leading to McCaul issuing a subpoena to this effect on Monday.

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