By Edward Yeranian
24 May 2009
|Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Tehran, Iran, Sunday, 24 May 2009|
Iran is played host to a high-profile summit of two key war-torn neighbors, Pakistan and Afghanistan, in a bid to put an end to conflicts that rage along its borders.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari flew into Tehran, at the head of high-level delegations, to discuss a series of problems, including drugs, terrorism and Islamic extremism.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad told his counterparts that he hoped "fraternal and peaceful relations prevail in the region, once again ... as they have in times past."
Mr. Ahmedinejad also blasted "foreign intervention and extremism," which he argued has been "imposed ... by outside parties" and has destabilized the region. He is heard through a translator.
"The presence of outside forces in our region is there under the pretext of establishing security. Yet, up to this day, (outside powers) have not contributed significantly to the establishment of (stability) and security, as well as economic and political development of the region."
Through a translator, Afghan President Hamid Karzai decried the bloodshed and violence wracking his country and appealed to his two neighbors to help find solutions to it.
"Based on the interests of the three countries, if we work together, if we analyze our problems and also explore solutions to those problems ... Today, in Afghanistan, every day, we have bloodshed ... Today, in Pakistan, every day, you see bloodshed," Mr. Karzai said. "Actually, in Afghanistan, we have large families which have been destroyed, and that is a great disaster. Can we save ourselves from those problems?"
Mr. Karzai also requested from his two counterparts that outside parties be allowed to participate in future tri-partite summits. Presidents Ahmedinejad and Zardari agreed to the request.
Mr. Zardari, whose country is battling Taliban forces along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, noted, through a translator, the region is suffering from major "geopolitical problems".
"This is a time of a lot of problems in the world," Mr. Zardari said. "We can see the impacts of those problems on Afghanistan and Pakistan. We can see a lot of trouble around our borders and we cannot distance ourselves from the geopolitics of this region. There are big countries in our neighborhood and we cannot deny that. We cannot change our neighbors. We have to reconcile with this fact."
President Ahmedinejad concluded Sunday's public session, noting that "historic, constructive agreements" had been reached. President Zardari called the meeting a "historic moment, while President Karzai insisted that "such a summit had been needed ... for a long time."