Sunday, January 17, 2010

Our allies the Iranians?

The Daily Times in Pakistan reports:
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran on Saturday agreed on a joint framework to meet the regional security challenges of terrorism and extremism.

The agreement was signed at a trilateral meeting between Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, his Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki and Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta.

“We acknowledge that terrorism poses a common challenge that can only be addressed through concerted efforts,” the three ministers said in the joint declaration issued at a press conference...

[The ministers] supported indigenous Afghan efforts towards national reconciliation and reintegration in accordance with the Afghan constitution. They also agreed to strengthen cooperation to prohibit drug trafficking, curb illegal cross-border flow of weapons and check trans-national organised crime...

[Pakistani foregin minister Shah Mehmood] Qureshi said finance ministers of the three countries would soon meet in Kabul to promote economic cooperation while their intelligence chiefs would meet in Tehran for intelligence sharing. He said the next trilateral summit would take place in Islamabad, adding foreign ministers of Afghanistan’s six neighbours would also hold meetings in Iran.

U.S. and Iranian interests have long converged in Afghanistan.  There was significant cooperation in the wake of 9/11, before Bush's "axis of evil" speech in early 2002 cut the legs out from under the Khatami-led pragmatists. Here's hoping that this announced cooperation can yield some real benefits.

The allusion to Afghan "national reconciliation and reintegration" in the official statement -- as opposed, say, to crushing the Taliban -- is also worth noting.

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