THE strengthening of regional treaties is a key factor to prevent the promotion of a unipolar system of domination by the US, and would benefit regional nations, and peace and security, President Mahmud Ahmadinezhad of Iran said last Tuesday 14 August.
The president was launching a 3-nation tour of Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan, three strategically placed states in central Asia, to hold talks with senior officials of the three countries over major bilateral, regional and international developments.
Speaking to reporters in Tehran before leaving here for Kabul, on the first leg of his three-nation tour, the president said attending the Summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Kyrgyzstan was one of the major goals of his tour.
The summit will begin in Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan, on Thursday and will be attended by the Russian and Chinese leaderships.
Referring to the SCO as a significant regional organisation, President Ahmadinezhad said the Asia and Central Asia regions enjoyed many common demands, issues and potentials which would help promote bilateral relations among their member states.
He stressed that he would hold separate meetings with his counterparts from SCO member states to enhance bilateral relations.
As for his visit to Afghanistan, the president said it was taking place at the official invitation of President Hamid Karzai.
‘Iran and Afghanistan are two neighbouring and brotherly countries that share common history, culture and interests,’ said the president.
He stressed that the existing regional situation made it necessary for Tehran and Kabul to have some consultations over bilateral relations, economic issues, investment and development projects as well as regional and security matters.
President Ahmadinezhad said the people of Afghanistan needed help and different methods to develop the war-torn country and restore complete security nationwide.
As for his visit to Turkmenistan, President Ahmadinezhad said discussing promotion of Tehran-Ashkhabad cooperation in the fields of transportation, trade, energy and joint investments as well as consultation over major regional developments were among key objectives of his visit to the Central Asian country.
Noting that Iran, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan were working together on an anti-drug smuggling campaign, the president said the problem of drugs smuggling is the outcome of the presence of foreign forces in the region.
The highpoint of his visit to Afghanistan was a joint press conference with President Hamed Karzai before which the two presidents signed a number of agreements.
A joint news conference by Afghan President Hamed Karzai and Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinezhad at the presidential palace in Kabul on 14 August was relayed live on National Afghanistan television.
The proceedings started with Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki signing separate cooperation agreements with the Afghan ministers of finance, agriculture, public works, and the interior.
The Afghan and Iranian deputy ministers of mines then signed a memorandum of understanding on academic research projects.
After that, Karzai and Mahmud Ahmadinezhad signed a general cooperation agreement between the two countries.
After the signing ceremony, the two presidents addressed a joint news conference.
Karzai began his address by welcoming the Iranian president, whom he described as his ‘personal friend’, and highlighted the good and friendly relations between Iran and Afghanistan throughout history.
He expressed appreciation for Iran’s cooperation with Afghanistan and its understanding of the situation in Afghanistan.
Karzai said that during their talks, he and Ahmadinezhad had discussed joint cooperation in the war on terror and the campaign against narcotics, adding that the people of Afghanistan hoped Iran and Ahmadinezhad personally would continue the cooperation and enable Afghanistan to achieve success against international terrorism.
President Ahmadinezhad, in turn, said it was a great pleasure for him to visit Afghanistan and meet the Afghan authorities to discuss important regional issues and the needs of the two countries.
The Iranian president said the two countries were natural allies, had always shared happiness and grief and should always live in peace and brotherhood.
He said it was unfortunate that ‘evil hands and selfish enemies’ had caused Afghanistan problems in the past three decades and deprived it of opportunities.
Ahmadinezhad also said: ‘We had good talks in an atmosphere of brotherhood.
‘We are brothers in the true meaning of the word.
‘We discussed join investment, construction activities and cooperation that can help expedite the development process in Afghanistan.
‘We also discussed security and the cooperation that could be offered by all, the neighbouring countries, and those who have sympathy to humanity and to the people of Afghanistan to ensure durable security.
‘Durable security is the basis for any type of growth and construction.
‘We had good talks on commerce development and investment in agriculture, industries, and mines.
‘We also had good talks on academic and cultural cooperation, exchange of teachers and students, and in research programmes.’
After Ahmadinezhad’s address, the two presidents took questions from journalists on the forced repatriation of Afghan refugees from Iran and the discovery of Iranian weapons in Afghanistan.
The United States administration is very angry about the joint meeting between President Ahmadinezhad and President Karzai, whom the US and UK armed forces placed in power in Afghanistan.
Karzai has made a number of statements recently condemning the very high civilian casualties that are taking place in Afghanistan as a direct result of US and UK military operations where massive bombing raids and artillery bombardments are the rule.
Ahmadinezhad’s attendance at the SCO meeting is also seen to be ‘highly provocative’ since the US regards that organisation as an attempt to build up an effective alliance to confront NATO and its expansion eastwards.