Middle East Intrudes On Persian Summit in Tajikistan
PRAGUE, July 27, 2006 (RFE/RL) --
Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad and Afghan President Hamid Karzai met on
July 26 in Tajikistan with their Tajik counterpart Imomali Rakhmonov to discuss
how they could cooperate on security, communications, and
Ahmadinejad (center) and
(right) on July 26 (RFE/RL)
The three countries have a
shared historical heritage and the task of the three leaders was to seek ways
that their common future would be bright. But current world events shifted some
of their focus away from issues on the agenda.
The three presidents have much to discuss that immediately
concerns all three of their countries, but the fighting between Lebanese
Hizballah and Israel quickly captured the leaders'
Iranian President Ahmadinejad's country has
been mentioned often in recent days as a sponsor of Hizballah. Ahmadinejad, who
has made a number of controversial remarks about Israel, said on July 25 after
his meeting with Rakhmonov that Israel is raising a "wind" that would become a
hurricane and that hurricane would eventually turn against what he described as
"the enemies of humanity."
Presidents Ahmadinejad (left) and
at the opening of the
tunnel in Tajikistan on July 26
returned to that topic at a separate press conference after his meeting with the
Tajik and Afghan presidents on July 26. "Hizballah is part of Lebanon and we
defend the territorial integrity of Lebanon," he said when asked about
Hizballah. "We are against forced occupation. We ask [the United States]: 'What
are your intentions and where do you want to go with the situation you have
Ahmadinejad also denied that Hizballah is an Iranian proxy. "I
think what the U.S. is saying [accusing Iran of being behind Hizballah] is to
justify their own defeat," he said. "They are desperate in the face of a popular
group in Lebanon and they want to say that this group is not on its own, that it
is backed by a country."
A joint statement released by the three
presidents at the end of their meeting urged for immediate and unconditional end
to military operations in Lebanon.
Ahmadinejad, Rakhmonov, and Karzai did address their
mutual problems -- security and poor communications between the three countries.
The three leaders agreed to join in building a large hydroelectric dam
on the Pyanj River that divides Tajikistan and Afghanistan. The dam would
presumably provide power for all three countries.
They also agreed to
cooperate more closely in the fight against illegal narcotics trafficking.
Afghanistan is the world's largest supplier of opium, the key ingredient in
Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying of the three countries that "we
should be as one -- economically, culturally, artistically."
Karzai, and Ahmadinejad decided to establish a council for coordinating
trilateral relations that will be based in Kabul. They also agreed to meet every
year to review progress in their ties.
(RFE/RL's Tajik Service
correspondent Rahmatkarimi Davlat contributed to this report from
Copyright (c) 2006 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
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