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Ahmadinejad in Kabul, sees US-led force root of turmoil

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has left Tehran for Kabul leading a high-ranking delegation on his first official visit to Afghanistan since the re-election of Hamid Karzai as president.

The Iranian president was received in the Afghan capital by Vice President Muhammad Qasim Fahim. He is reportedly on his way to be officially welcomed by President Karzai in the presidential palace.

“Iran has innovative plans for resolving ongoing problems in Afghanistan and the withdrawal of the occupying forces from the country,” Ahmadinejad told reporters on Wednesday ahead of his departure.

He touched upon strong bonds between the two neighboring states and said Iran has always supported the Afghan people while they were facing woes.

Ahmadinejad said Iranian and Afghan authorities have been holding regular consultations, adding, “Afghan President Karzai travelled to Iran many times and I have paid a visit to Afghanistan.”

The Iranian president said he would hold talks with senior Afghan officials, expressing optimism that the two countries would take positive steps to deal with existing issues.

Iran firmly believes that the persisting instability and insecurity in Afghanistan has its roots in the presence of foreign troops and has repeatedly called for the complete withdrawal of US-led forces from the country.

Iran, which has close ethnic and religious ties with Afghanistan, is a long-time victim of opium production in the neighbor state.

Although Iran has won the praise of the UN for its strenuous efforts in fighting drug trafficking, its long border with Afghanistan has prompted smugglers to view Iran as the best route for transporting drug to Europe and the West.

Since the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan, drug production in the country has surged making it the source of 90 percent of the world’s heroin supply.

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