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HomeNewsIran Afghanistan Cooperation Pact Reached As Karzai Defies US

Iran Afghanistan Cooperation Pact Reached As Karzai Defies US

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, right, stands with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, before their meeting at Tehran’s Saadabad Palace in Iran, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. Karzai arrived in Tehran for a one-day visit on Sunday to discuss regional and international issues with Iranian officials. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

An Iran-Afghanistan cooperation pact has been hatched out between President Hamid Karzai and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran Sunday. The deal comes as Karzai resists signing a security agreement previously reached with the U.S., which Karzai himself negotiated.

“Afghanistan agreed on a long-term friendship and cooperation pact with Iran,” Karzai’s spokesman Aimal Faizi said, according to Reuters. “The pact will be for long-term political, security, economic and cultural cooperation, regional peace and security.”

Afghanistan previously signed a cooperation pact with Iran in August mainly pertaining to security issues, but Faizi said the proposed new agreement would have a broader scope with greater implications.

Rouhani said Sunday his country opposes the presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan and the region, saying their presence generates tension, the official IRNA news agency reported.

IRNA quoted Rouhani as telling Karzai: “We believe that all foreign forces should leave the region and that the security of Afghanistan should be handed over to people of the country.”

“We are concerned about tensions caused by foreign forces’ presence in the region,” Rouhani was quoted as saying. He also called for more cooperation between Tehran and Kabul.

Iran has been opposing a planned agreement to allow U.S. forces to remain stationed on in neighboring Afghanistan since the beginning of the debate, as the two nations share 580 miles of common border lines.

Rouhani, the new so-called moderate president of Iran, has continued this opposition since rising to the presidency. He also said Iran opposes any foreign forces in the region, not just Afghanistan, but the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, where the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet has a base in the tiny kingdom of Bahrain.

On Saturday, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel laid out the framework to increase defense cooperation between states within the Gulf region, while at the same time insisting that America’s military commitment to the Middle East will continue. No attention was paid to the potential impact of the sequester on such ambitious plans.

In a speech on Saturday to Gulf leaders Hagel also insisted that the emerging global agreement that would limit Iran’s nuclear program doesn’t necessarily conclude the security threat from the Islamic republic is over.

The response from Iran added to the already-threatening statements made by the Iranian regime since the agreement was hatched out. Iran’s Defense Minister Gen. Hosein Dehghan, called the remarks by his American counterpart “threatening” on Sunday, adding that they pave the ground for mistrust toward the U.S. while revealing the influence of Israel — Iran’s arch enemy — on Washington.

The latest news comes amid Reuters reporting that Iran is moving ahead with testing more efficient uranium enrichment technology, according to a spokesman for its atomic energy agency, news that should concern world powers who just last month agreed a deal to supposedly curb Tehran’s atomic activities.

Iran signed an interim agreement over its nuclear plan with world powers last month. President Rouhani has supposedly been trying to convince skeptics and hard-liners at home that the move was not compromising on key issues of national sovereignty, thus the hardline comments of his own.

Israel has repeatedly criticized the deal and Netanyahu called it a “historic mistake,” recently calling for economic sanctions, which were beginning to work, to once-again be strengthened.

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