US’ Responsible Withdrawal from Afghanistan Positive Step towards Peace: Zarif

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the responsible withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan will be a positive step towards a sustainable peace in the war-torn state.

Addressing the 2020 Geneva virtual conference on Afghanistan, Zarif said the military approach to building peace has failed, and the presence of foreign troops has been a lingering problem.

“A responsible exit of foreign troops from Afghanistan—with a smooth and effective assumption of their duties by the Afghan security forces—will be a positive step toward a sustainable peace,” he noted.

He said Iran has always supported intra-Afghan talks, owned and led by Afghans themselves, including the Taliban, which preserves the post-2001 achievements: the democratic Constitution, the right of the people to self-determination through elections, the rights of religious and ethnic minorities, the rights of women; and combating terrorism.

What follows is the full text of Foreign Minister Zarif’s speech:

Distinguished Friends,

It is a tragedy of epic proportions that twenty years after the conference in Bonn, we are still talking about war in Afghanistan. For over 40 years, Afghans have endured bloodshed, perpetrated primarily from the outside.

The military approach to building peace has failed, and the presence of foreign troops has been a lingering problem. A responsible exit of foreign troops from Afghanistan—with a smooth and effective assumption of their duties by the Afghan security forces—will be a positive step toward a sustainable peace.

Iran has always supported intra-Afghan dialogue, owned and led by Afghans themselves, which should include the Taliban, and which preserves the post-2001 achievements: the democratic Constitution, the right of the people to self-determination through elections, the rights of religious and ethnic minorities, the rights of women; and combatting terrorism. The UN should be central in facilitating intra-Afghan dialogue, and Iran stands ready to cooperate.

Distinguished Friends,

We all know that poverty and unemployment are fertile grounds for extremism, terrorism, and drug trafficking. Peace will not be sustainable if Afghans have to struggle to simply survive.

For our part,

We host over 3 million Afghans, using our subsidized food, transport and health services, in spite of savage US economic war against our people.

470000 Afghan students attend our schools,

22000 Afghans are being trained by our universities.

We connect Afghanistan to the outside world through Chabahr, The Khaf-Herat railway is due to be inaugurated in the coming days.

Our power plants provide electricity for Afghan people.

And we can do far more in the field of energy.

But instead of facilitating, the US—through its economic terrorism targeting Iranians and Afghans alike—impedes such cooperation.

Also, international donors have a seriously flawed approach—exemplified in the order of speakers in this meeting putting the neighbors last.

The world must put the people of Afghanistan before other considerations.

 

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