24 September 2012
H.E. Mr. Mehmanparst
Deputy Foreign Minister
Islamic Republic of Iran
At the Senior Officils meeting of the Istanbul Process
24 September 2012, New York
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
I would like to start by expressing our gratitude to the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan for organizing this very important meeting on the follow up of the Istanbul process and the meeting on the Heart of Asia.
Minister Salehi took part in the ‘Heart of Asia’s Ministerial Conference – held on 14 June 2012 in Kabul, as the first follow-up ministerial meeting of the Istanbul Process. I would like to make a few comments in this regard. We view the Istanbul Process and the ‘Heart of Asia’ as a good framework for regional cooperation that result in sincere cooperation for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, as well as a secure and prosperous region as a whole.
Afghanistan still faces challenges that can derail the country’s stabilization and development, and hamper regional and cooperation. Violence, extremism and narcotic drug production and trafficking are among the major obstacles. One important issue for the region and in the area of relationship between Afghanistan and its neighbors is the continuation of the presence of foreign forces. This has been a major security concern for the neighboring countries and the region over the past decade. That’s why we closely follow the issue of status of forces and their final drawdown from Afghanistan.
On regional cooperation we have continued our talks with Afghan authorities on bilateral, trilateral and regional basis. The latest trilateral Summit meeting between Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan was held in the sideline of NAM summit in Tehran in late August late last month. Such talks are of much importance to further strengthen our cooperation, particularly in relation to increasing our coordination on security matters, counter-narcotics efforts, illegal immigration and completion of developmental projects.
While we agree that terrorism and violent extremism are common threats to the region and emphasizing the need for joint and concerted efforts and cooperation among the regional countries to address the challenge of terrorism. There is a high concern about the increase in the loss of lives and injuries inflicted upon Afghan civilians in the aftermath of attacks taking place in the name of counter terrorism operation. Putting the lives of innocent people at the mercy of drone attacks must be halted. There is no justification to put the lives of innocent civilians in the name of countering terrorism or any other justifications.
The Istanbul Conference on Afghanistan was an opportunity where the neighboring countries as well as international partners exchanged views on how to move further on creating the conditions suitable for the economic growth for Afghanistan. We hope that the outcome of Istanbul Conference would be follow up seriously in order to pave the ground for a more economic prosperity for Afghanistan and active participation of all the neighboring and regional countries in the infrastructural and developmental projects in line with the wishes of Afghan people and Government. Any initiatives elaborated in Istanbul conference and other similar conferences should strengthen the trust between Afghanistan and its neighbors through active engagement, interactions and partnership. The neighboring countries of Afghanistan have a legitimate interest in Afghanistan’s security and long-term stability and play their role in promoting Afghanistan’s socio-economic development. Obviously the prospects of a stable and flourishing Afghanistan would be ideal situation to its neighbors and the wider region. The continuing engagement between Afghanistan and its neighbors and regional partners in the areas of trade, economic development and infrastructure development must be therefore supported. We stand ready to cooperate in this process. Here we should also emphasis on the central role of the United Nations in coordinating international efforts in Afghanistan which is of paramount importance and enjoys our full support.
I thank you for your kind attention.