April 2001 News

Kashmir doesn"t figure in India-Iran talks

11 April 2001
The Times of India
The Times of India News Service

TEHERAN: If India's obsession remains to isolate Pakistan, then the current Prime Ministerial visit to Iran has been working out very well. Even though Atal Behari Vajpayee came to Teheran prepared to answer any questions the Iranians may have on Kashmir, there were no queries from that side, even during the one-to-one tete-a-tete between the Prime Minister and the Iranian President Syed Hojatolislam Mohammad Khatami on Tuesday. This, diplomatic sources say, is a recognition of the fact that the Iranians respect India's firm resolve not to allow any third party involvement in the resolution of the Kashmir problem. Not just that, the repeated condemnation of the Taliban - which continues to be backed by Pakistan - by the Iranians has been music to the ears of the Indian delegation. President Khatami told journalists on Tuesday evening that Iran, as the current president of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) , would use its good offices on the Afghan issue. " What goes on in Afghanistan has unfortunately led to international terrorism, narcotic drug trafficking and also rebellion and violence for this part of the world," he said, adding," I am deeply regretful that such crimes are committed in the name of Islam. Especially the recent action of the Taliban which was an anti-cultural and anti-human action, where the statues of Buddha were destroyed. " He then went on to say, " We have a comprehensive cooperation with UN in order to solve these problems in Afghanistan. In the course of the presidency of Iran over OIC, this organisation will take action in this respect. Iran is also active in Group 6+2 ( the countries bordering Afghanistan and US and Russia) and even bilaterally we are embarking upon discussions with countries of the region on this subject. We specially feel that our bilateral relations with India and the multilateral ones in which India and Iran will be included will be useful in solving the problem in Afghanistan. " The Iranian foreign minister, Kamal Kharazi, who called on the Indian PM on Wednesday evening , stressed the convergence of views between the two countries on the subject . Earlier, he had in an interview to the official Iranian news agency, IRNA, urged Pakistan to work with Teheran and Delhi to resolve the Afghanistan situation. " Experience has proven the Afghan crisis has no military solution and that the warring sides should sit at the negotiating table. We will speak to our friends in Pakistan . There is a need to change policies towrads Afghanistan, and they must encourage Afghan groups to sit down and negotiate." Kharazi's appeal to Pakistan is being read by Indian officials as a recognition of the fact that Pakistan is part of the Afghan problem -something of great concern to Teheran as it has fuelled for it a growing security and drugs problem on the border it shares with Afghanistan.   


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