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Khatami: Iran wants a powerful, stable, free Afghanistan

Mashhad, Khorassan Razavi Prov. Jan 27, IRNA -- President Mohammad Khatami said in this northeastern province on Thursday that Tehran called for a powerful, stable and free Afghanistan.

photo: ISNA

Speaking at the inaugural ceremony of a 123-km road which links Iran's Dogharoun region to the western province of Herat in Afghanistan, the president said that opening of Dogharoun-Herat road was a symbol of Tehran-Kabul cooperation which can further broaden in all political, economic, cultural and scientific fields.

President Khatami and his visiting Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai arrived in Mashhad Thursday morning and later left for the provincial city of Taibad near the border with Afghanistan to attend the inaugural ceremony.

The road has been built by Iranian experts and as part of Iran's assistance for reconstruction of Afghanistan in the post-war era. During a meeting of donor countries on Afghanistan held in Tokyo, Japan in 2002, Iran pledged to provide a dlrs 560 million aid package r implementation of reconstruction projects in Afghanistan.

Stressing that presently the fate of the two countries were linked together, President Khatami said "Iran and Afghanistan would benefit from each other's stability so much so that Iran cannot be safe while there instability in Afghanistan and similarly we cannot also have a developed Afghanistan while Iran is underdeveloped."

Khatami expressed hope that Tehran and Kabul would promote their relations from present limited level of border relations to broader level of having ties with other southern and eastern parts of that country.

The Iranian president also said that Tehran was studying more than 30 road building projects in Iran to expand transit of goods to Afghanistan and the Central Asia.

He added that one of the projects which is presently underway in Iran was in the major port city of Chahbahar in southeast Iran. According to the president, Chahbahar could link Afghanistan and the Central Asia to the open seas.

Referring to the Afghan president's two-day official visit to Iran, beginning on Wednesday, President Khatami said that Karzai's visit was a sign of growing Tehran-Kabul relations.

Meanwhile, the Afghan president said for his part that during the past 30 years Iran has always been stood by the side of Afghanistan supporting the country during its hard days and helping it restore peace and stability during its post-war era.

"The Afghan nation will keep in mind the golden memory of Iran's cooperation," President Karzai stressed, recalling Tehran's "financial and spiritual support for Kabul during the past three years."

He also stressed that restoration of peace and stability would serve Afghanistan's neighbors and the entire region as well.

President Karzai thanked the people and government of Iran on behalf of the Afghan nation.

It was also learned that the two presidents signed a declaration on good-neighboring relations on the sidelines of the inauguration of Dogharoun-Herat road.

A number of foreign diplomats based in Iran were also present in the ceremony including consuls of Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan and kyrgyzstan as well as UNHCR representative in Mashhad.

The above article comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2004

... Payvand News - 1/27/05 ... --

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