ISTANBUL (Dispatches) -- Iran’s foreign minister on Monday hit out at the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan, saying it is only providing a recruiting ground for extremists.
"There is no military solution in Afghanistan. The presence of foreign forces has never brought stability in our region and has historically provided a recruiting ground for extremists,” Muhammad Javad Zarif told the Ministerial Conference of Heart of Asia Countries.
The Heart of Asia - Istanbul Process was established in 2011 to provide a platform for expanding practical coordination between Afghanistan and its neighbors and regional partners in facing common threats.
Zarif called for a timetable for withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan, saying it is prerequisite for restoration of peace to the war-torn country.
Iran, he said, believes that any peace initiative for Afghanistan should be launched among local groups and parties, in an apparent dig at negotiations between the U.S. and the Taliban without the participation of the Afghan government.
"We support an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process with the participation of all political groups and factions including the Taliban with the Afghan government at the center,” Zarif said.
He also underlined the role of neighboring countries and the UN in establishing peace in Afghanistan, saying taking views of the neighboring countries and their legitimate concerns into account would guarantee the success of the process.
Zarif further warned about "the increasing threat of Daesh in Afghanistan, which has led to more bloodshed and introduced dangerous sectarian tendencies”.
"As no one benefitted from introducing and supporting Daesh and other extremists in Syria and Iraq, no one will benefit from introducing them to Afghanistan and Central Asia either,” he said.
Iran ‘Definitely Dissatisfied’ by EU
Zarif earlier said Iran is definitely unhappy with the level of the Europeans’ commitment to the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Tehran is angry over a lack of European protection from U.S. sanctions and has rolled back its commitments under the 2015 deal.
"We are certainly dissatisfied with the level of commitment by the European Union and member states to the implementation of the JCPOA,” Zarif said on the sidelines of the Istanbul conference.
The issue, Zarif said, "was raised explicitly by Iran and the two non-European members - namely Russia and China - in a remarkable coordination on Friday” when all the parties met in Vienna to assess the state of the nuclear agreement.
At the meeting, Britain, France and Germany reportedly demanded that Iran stop scaling back its commitments, but Iran’s top envoy to the talks reiterated that Tehran would continue reducing them unless it could benefit from the accord.
Iran has said the clock is ticking
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