TEHRAN, May 24: President Asif Ali Zardari, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Afghan President Hamid Karzai expressed on Sunday their resolve to combat religious extremism and drugs smuggling. They signed the ‘Tehran Declaration’, pledging to work for security in the region.
“All three nations, by relying on their strengths, good organisation and cooperation, can resolve these issues (extremism and smuggling),” Mr Ahmadinejad said at the summit’s closing session. “The Tehran Declaration is a serious declaration of comprehensive cooperation towards achieving the interests of all three nations.”
Mr Karzai said: “We are faced with several problems, but there are also opportunities for finding a solution through dialogue and talks. We have to bring about security and stability for our future generation who live in the region.”
The summit followed Afghanistans largest-ever drugs seizure in an operation that ended on Saturday in a Taliban stronghold and opium-production centre in the south of the country, in which troops killed 60 militants.
Afghanistan is the source of 90 per cent of the world’s opium, most of which is converted into heroin inside the country and smuggled out via Pakistan and Iran, where drug use is growing.
Referring to US-led forces in Afghanistan, Mr Ahmadinejad said at the opening session of the summit that the presence of foreign forces had “not succeeded” in stabilising the region.
President Zardari proposed that the next three-way summit be held in Pakistan, which was accepted by Iran and Afghanistan. The dates for the next summit in Islamabad will be finalised later.
He also called for a separate trilateral mechanism on the dialogue on development, to realise the true potential of trade and economic cooperation. Mr Zardari called for joint efforts and increased cooperation among Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan and said Islamabad was committed to fighting “terrorism, extremism and narcotics which has threatened the region. We can tackle them through a comprehensive approach.”
“We have to get together to tackle these challenges. It is not just the matter of our survival, but for the betterment and safety of our future generations,” President Zardari said.
Presidents of the three countries had met less than three months ago in Tehran with leaders of other neighbouring states for a regional economic summit that pledged to help rebuild Afghanistan.
Source: Pakistan Dawn