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Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran Call for Greater Cooperation

By VOA News
28 April 2009

The foreign ministers of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran have agreed to promote preferential trade-arrangements among their three nations, and they have underscored the need to better link their countries by road and rail.

These are two conclusions in a joint statement adopted Tuesday after a tri-lateral forum in the Afghan capital, Kabul.

Afghanistan's foreign minister, Rangeen Dadfar Spanta, his Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, and Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki also agreed to meet again next month in Tehran.

In addition to enhanced trade and cooperation, the foreign ministers discussed regional security issues in their meeting Monday.

Qureshi said Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran need an "indigenous" plan for peace and stability. Afghanistan and Pakistan are battling a growing insurgency fueled by militants that often cross their porous borders.

The U.S. is planning to increase its troop presence in Afghanistan to try to ease the violence. Iran, which shares a border with both Afghanistan and Pakistan, has criticized that plan.

Iran's deputy foreign minister, Mohammad Mehdi Akhundzadeh, said earlier this month that foreign troops have "not improved things" in Afghanistan.

Monday's ministerial meeting in Kabul is the second time officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran have discussed regional security in as many months.

The countries' presidents were together last month in Tehran for a regional economic summit that focused on efforts to rebuild Afghanistan.

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