Afghanistan, Iran plan cooperation pact amid tensions with U.S.

KABUL Sun Dec 8, 2013 12:53pm EST

Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during the last day of the Loya Jirga, in Kabul November 24, 2013. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during the last day of the Loya Jirga, in Kabul November 24, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Omar Sobhani

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KABUL (Reuters) - Afghan President Hamid Karzai agreed on a cooperation pact with Iran on Sunday, an Afghan official said, while continuing to resist signing a long-term security agreement with the United States.

Karzai struck the deal with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran in a move that will be greeted with suspicion by his U.S. ally, which is trying to convince him to sign the security accord governing any post-2014 U.S. presence in Afghanistan.

"Afghanistan agreed on a long-term friendship and cooperation pact with Iran," Karzai's spokesman Aimal Faizi said. "The pact will be for long-term political, security, economic and cultural cooperation, regional peace and security."

He said a formal document would be prepared and signed soon.

In August Afghanistan signed a strategic cooperation pact with Iran covering mainly security issues, but Faizi said the proposed new agreement would have much broader scope.

Many Afghans believe such a bargain with Iran, at odds with the United States since the 1979 Islamic revolution, may harm Afghanistan's uneasy relationship with its Western allies.

The U.S. bilateral security pact is a decade-long agreement that would provide a legal basis for about 8,000 U.S. troops to stay on after the NATO-led combat mission ends next year.

Its future was thrown into doubt last month when Karzai said he would sign only if new conditions were met, and then only after Afghanistan's elections in April.

Iran has long opposed NATO's presence in Afghanistan and is the only country to have asked Karzai not to sign the agreement

Rouhani reinforced that message after meeting Karzai. "All foreign troops should be withdrawn from the region," he posted on his official Twitter account. "(The) security of Afghanistan should be entrusted to the Afghan people."

(Writing by Hamid Shalizi; Editing by Dylan Welch and Alistair Lyon)

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Comments (27)
chekovmerlin wrote:
This has to be the “smartest” move that Karzai can make. He is making a long term agreement with a Shi’ia government and is himself a Sunni (an apostate to Shi’ia). His attempt to sign an agreement with the Taliban, a reactionary Sunni group shows that he is truly trying to play one side against the other. Three cheers for stupid. We should leave. Period. Let the Iranians fight the Taliban. Let the Iranians fight Al Qaeda. In Afghanistan. Wise decision, Karzai. Pit the two organizations who truly hate each other to have a war in your country. Couldn’t be wiser.(sarcastic)

Dec 08, 2013 12:47pm EST  --  Report as abuse
TomMariner wrote:
The most disastrous foreign policy since Neville Chamberlain.

The guy who won the Peace Prize will leave us with a war with China and a nuclear MidEast determined to repeat 9/11.

Dec 08, 2013 12:50pm EST  --  Report as abuse
TomMariner wrote:
The most disastrous foreign policy since Neville Chamberlain.

The guy who won the Peace Prize will leave us with a war with China and a nuclear MidEast determined to repeat 9/11.

Dec 08, 2013 12:50pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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