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Iran welcomes Afghan government peace-making efforts

4 December 2016 16:15

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Iran has welcomed the Afghan government’s latest achievements in restoring peace with the Hezb-i-Islami militant group, led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, in the conflict-ridden country.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made the remarks at the 6th Heart of Asia ministerial conference in New Delhi, India, on Sunday.

Zarif reaffirmed Iran’s “strong determination … to continue support for the Afghan government and nation in passing through a difficult historical time to a stable, secure and advanced Afghanistan” that contributes to regional stability.

Hekmatyar, a former anti-Soviet commander, is accused of leading a militancy campaign that allegedly killed thousands of people during the 1992-1996 civil war.

Later in 2003, he was also designated a “global terrorist” by the US for his alleged links to al-Qaeda and the Taliban militant groups and was hence forced to go into hiding.

However, the Kabul government and Hekmatya signed a historic peace deal in September following lengthy talks.

Elsewhere in his comments, Zarif said that the summit was initiated five years ago to boost regional cooperation with its focus on Afghanistan and since then, achievements have been made but a long way is ahead.

“Our region still suffers from a worrying rise in extremist violence and the growing trend in drugs production threaten our societies,” he added

As a frontrunner in the fight against the smuggling of narcotics, the Islamic Republic has proposed plans for replacing Afghanistan’s cultivation of opium poppy, the top Iranian diplomat further stressed.

Afghanistan has been gripped by insecurity since the United States and its allies invaded the country as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror in 2001. Many parts of the Asian state remain plagued by militancy despite the presence of foreign troops.

During the past 15 years, the Taliban militants have been conducting terrorist attacks across the country, killing and displacing civilians.

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