Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has called on the international community to facilitate constructive dialogue between the Taliban group and the Afghan government in a bid to restore peace to the war-torn state.
Addressing the Geneva Conference on Afghanistan on Wednesday, Zarif said “all of us need to facilitate the intra-Afghan dialogue, by helping to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table with the Government for inclusive and comprehensive talks.”
“Domestic and regional inclusion is key to success,” he added.
He also noted that Iran is ready to continue to help the people and government of Afghanistan in their quest for peace and cooperate with all with the same objective.
What follows is the full text of his speech:
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
It is very timely to have this ministerial meeting when we face immense opportunities and challenges in Afghanistan. We appreciate UNAMA’s efforts and thank President Ghani and Chief Executive Dr Abdullah for their courageous leadership and insightful presentations. We are encouraged by their approach to reconciliation. Let me make a few brief points:
- There is national, regional and global consensus that there is no military solution in Afghanistan, and the time has come for national reconciliation and inclusive political solution in Afghanistan, owned and led by the Afghan government and people. This ministerial meeting and the complimentary Kabul, Tashkent and Moscow formats attest to this momentum which must be seized.
- There are old and new challenges. The presence of foreign forces has never brought stability in our region and has historically provided a recruiting ground for extremists. A new challenge is the introduction of Daesh (ISIS) to Afghanistan which has led to more bloodshed and introduced dangerous sectarian tendencies. More dangerously, it has radicalized the local armed groups in a competition over followers and recruits. Believe me, as no one gained from introducing and supporting Daesh and other extremists in Syria and Iraq, no one will gain from introducing them to Afghanistan and Central Asia. This horrific trend needs to be arrested before it reaches catastrophic proportions.
- Terrorism and drug trafficking have always been mutually reinforcing in Afghanistan. We need a comprehensive strategy to fight the drug menace, which must include economic development in this resource rich country. Connectivity is key and Iran’s sea and rail links including Chabahar are essential for Afghan development. It is regrettable that unlawful unilateral sanctions impede cooperation.
- All of us need to facilitate the intra-Afghan dialogue, by helping to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table with the Government for inclusive and comprehensive talks. Domestic and regional inclusion is key to success.
- The achievements of Afghan people over the last two decades, particularly the Constitution of Afghanistan and the democratic process provide the foundations for peace and stability. We welcome the recent parliamentary elections and look forward to a free and fair presidential election in April.
Iran is ready to continue to help the people and government of Afghanistan in their quest for peace and cooperate with all with the same objective.