Pakistan, Turkey, Iran ‘share common stance’ on Afghanistan

Pakistan FM says Turkey, Iran and Pakistan are against military solution to Afghanistan, which Trump’s new policy offers

Irshad Salim — Pakistan’s Foreign Minister said Tuesday in Ankara that a common stance is needed in the region against the new U.S. strategy for timeless war until military victory in Afghanistan.

“We have talked to friendly countries in the region and decided that we need to take a common stance [against Donald Trump’s policy],” Khawaja Asif told Anadolu Agency at the airport in the Turkish capital, as he left for Pakistan.

The Pakistani minister earlier stopped over in Tehran on a day-long visit to the Iranian capital and met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Asif earlier held detailed talks with Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif on bilateral relations and the prevailing regional situation, including efforts for peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Pakistan and Iran say there is no military solution for the 16-year-long lingering conflict in Afghanistan and that a negotiated political solution is imperative for lasting peace.

They underscored that the regional countries have vital stakes in the stability of Afghanistan and should play a more proactive role in peace efforts.

Following up on his trip to Iran, Asif met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoğlu on Tuesday during his one-day visit to Ankara.

Bilateral cooperation in trade, economy and defense was also discussed in the meetings, alongside regional issues, in particular Afghanistan, Asif said.

He added that both Turkey and Pakistan were against a military solution to Afghanistan.

Asif’s trips come in the wake of the announcement of US President Donald Trump’s new strategy on Afghanistan late last month. The strategy involves bringing 4,000 American troops into the long-running conflict in Afghanistan, which has been torn by decades of Taliban-led militancy and the 2001 invasion by the US and its allies. The new policy, which is believed to set the stage for a significant escalation of the war, has created tensions between Islamabad and Washington.

Before his four-nation tour to China, Iran, Turkey and Moscow, Asif had said he aimed to improve regional coordination to facilitate the political settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan.

Speaking in an interview with IRNA in Islamabad on Sunday, Asif said regional countries should forge consensus to settle the Afghan conflict that defies a military solution. “I believe that if Afghanistan’s neighbors and regional countries reach consensus over a political solution for restoring peace to Afghanistan, stability will return to this country,” he said.

“The military approach the US has taken since 2001 to Afghanistan has been failing for the past 16 years.”

After Turkey, he plans to visit Russia before wrapping up his tour.

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