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Afghan-Iranian officials move to strengthen relations and tighten border controls

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(Last Updated On: June 23, 2020)

Afghanistan’s acting minister of foreign affairs Mohammed Haneef Atmar, and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif have agreed to take all necessary measures to prevent illegal border crossings and human trafficking by stepping up controls over the shared boundary.

This decision was announced late Monday night in a joint statement issued by the two officials as Atmar wrapped up a two-day official visit to Afghanistan’s neighboring country.

According to the statement, the security-frontier committee and the committee on the legalization of residence of nationals of the two countries on each other’s soil were assigned to adopt the necessary measures to ensure the security of the common border in order to prevent illegal travel, human trafficking, and smuggling.

“In this regard, the two sides highlighted the need for the Afghan security forces to be present in the border outposts emptied in Afghanistan, and for the Islamic Republic of Iran to facilitate issuing visas,” read the statement.

Both sides also stressed the “need for the border guards of the two countries to monitor and control the common borders strictly and effectively, and undertook to prevent illegal border-crossing, human trafficking, and smuggling of drugs and any other items into the territory of each other.”

An agreement was also reached regarding mutual cooperation in observing international health regulations at the border crossings.

Numerous meetings were held during the two-day visit where a wide range of issues was discussed, including the expansion of relations between the two countries in various fields within the framework of eight working committees.

This includes committees on comprehensive documentation, legalization of residence of nationals, border cooperation, labor, water, cultural cooperation, energy, and health issues.

The two sides stated that in order to institutionalize and organize sound bilateral relations, Afghanistan and Iran would proceed with negotiations to finalize a comprehensive document on strategic cooperation and have this document finalized and ready to be signed within three months.

Iran also stated that it welcomed the peace process efforts and expressed readiness to help facilitate intra-Afghan negotiations. They also stated they would be willing to host such negotiations.

Both sides emphasized the need to reduce violence in Afghanistan “with the purpose of building trust and creating a positive atmosphere in order to launch the intra-Afghan negotiations as soon as possible, achieve a lasting ceasefire, and establish sustainable peace.”

“Considering the significance of regional and international consensus on the establishment of peace and security in Afghanistan, the two sides stressed the need to strengthen the regional and international cooperation and consultations and activate the capacities available in the region with the purpose of facilitating the negotiations and supporting the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s establishment,” read the statement.

Both countries agreed that there was also a need to carry out joint programs in promoting common areas including that of the heritage of language, religion, and culture, as well as educational cooperation.

Detailed discussions were also held on recent incidents that resulted in human fatalities.

This comes after tension heightened early last month after reports emerged that Iranian border guards had allegedly beaten and thrown about 50 Afghan migrants into the Harirud river.

Iran has refuted these claims and said the incident, which resulted in the death of some migrants, happened on the Afghanistan side of the river.

The statement, however, indicated that Iran had informed the Afghan side of progress around ongoing investigations, and both sides agreed to adopt measures to prevent any recurrence of such an incident.

Discussions on boosting economic ties were also held and the two sides agreed on a number of cooperation initiatives in the transport and transportation sectors. Chabahar Port was highlighted as being the “driving engine of trade-transit cooperation in the region.”

Both sides agreed there was a need to provide welfare facilities at border crossings and that joint action was needed as a matter of urgency to “repair the infrastructure and the asphalt road for motor vehicles at the Dogharoun border crossing.”

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Director-General for West-Asia Seyed Rasoul Mousavi hailed Atmar’s visit.

“As an expert, I would like to say the visit of FM Atmar to Tehran was a very important and comprehensive one,” Mousavi Tweeted on Tuesday.

“Negotiations & agreements were reached in all areas. The joint statement of the visit is cold water on the fire of the ill-wishers of Iran & Afghanistan relations,” he added.

Iran has over the past 40 years hosted millions of Afghan refugees. According to Iran, it currently hosts about 1.5 million Afghan refugees who are living in the country illegally, in addition to about 800,000 documented

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IEA delegation due in Norway for humanitarian talks

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(Last Updated On: January 21, 2022)

Representatives of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) will arrive in Norway on Sunday for three days of talks on how to alleviate a humanitarian crisis, the Norwegian foreign ministry said on Friday, Reuters reported.

“These meetings do not represent a legitimisation or recognition of the Taliban [IEA]. But we must talk to the de facto authorities in the country,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said in a statement.

“We cannot allow the political situation to lead to an even worse humanitarian disaster,” she said.

Millions of Afghans have been plunged deeper into poverty since last year’s IEA takeover, which resulted in disruption to aid programmes and deteriorating food security, Reuters reported.

The IEA representatives will meet Norwegian authorities as well as diplomats from several other countries from Jan. 23 to Jan. 25.

“Meetings will also take place between the Taliban [IEA] delegation and other Afghans with backgrounds from a range of fields. These include women leaders, journalists, and individuals working to safeguard human rights and address humanitarian, economic, social and political issues,” Norway said.

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IEA says EU reopens embassy in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: January 21, 2022)

Foreign Ministry of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) on Thursday, announced that European Union officially reopened its diplomatic office in Kabul.

Spokesman of the Ministry Abdul Qahar Balkhi on the Twitter post said that the EU’s diplomatic office has officially resumed its operations in Afghanistan.

“Following consecutive meetings and reaching an understanding with EU representatives, the European Union officially opened its embassy with a permanent presence in Kabul and practically commenced operations.” Balkhi tweeted.

Meanwhile, Abdul Qahar Balkhi said that the EU announced 268 million euro additional assistance apart from the 220 million euro humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.

He added that a portion of the money will be used for teachers and their salaries which he welcomed.

The reopening of the embassy comes as the IEA is yet to be recognized by any country but a number of countries have started consular services in the country.

This comes after Afghanistan’s caretaker government on Wednesday called on the international community to formally recognize the IEA administration which is governing the country after toppling the U.S.-installed government last year.

Mullah Hassan Akhund, acting prime minister of the caretaker government, made the statement at an economic conference in Kabul, which convened IEA officials, some countries’ representatives and UN envoys.

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Turkey, Qatar reached preliminary deal on Kabul airport security

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(Last Updated On: January 21, 2022)

Turkey and Qatar have reached agreement on ensuring security at Kabul’s main airport should they be awarded the mission amid ongoing talks with the Islamic Emirate (IE) government, Turkish diplomatic sources said on Thursday, Reuters reported.

Kabul’s international airport is landlocked Afghanistan’s main air link to the world. Following the August takeover of Afghanistan by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), Turkey has said it would be open to operating it with Qatar but only if its security demands are met.

Reuters has reported that the United Arab Emirates also held talks with the Taliban to keep the airport operational.

The sources told reporters on Thursday that Ankara and Doha had agreed on a security framework for the airport mission, but added talks continued on other aspects such as financing.

“It is expected for the Taliban [Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan] to ensure security outside, and for whoever runs the airport to ensure it inside,” one of the sources said. “The process is continuing constructively,” the person said on condition of anonymity.

They added that a delegation of Turkish and Qatari officials were holding talks on the issue in Kabul this week, Reuters reported.

Qatar’s state news agency said the IEA government will be in Doha next week to complete discussions with Qatar and Turkey over the operation and management of the airport.

It added that delegations from Qatar and Turkey have held two days of “intense negotiations” in Kabul this week over control of the airport.

Qatar – which helped run the airport along with Turkey after playing a major role in evacuation efforts following the chaotic U.S. withdrawal in August – say that Ankara, Doha, and the IEA have agreed that discussions are going to be completed next week.

Qatar’s role at the Kabul airport has ensured that flights have operated between Doha and Kabul since September, allowing Qatar to become a hub for countries to maintain links to Afghanistan and to meet the IEA government. The United States, United Kingdom, Canada and several other countries have moved their Afghanistan embassies to Qatar, Reuters reported.

On Wednesday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey was sending 700 tonnes of emergency aid and supplies to Afghanistan, without providing a date.

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