Iran, Pakistan, China, Russia support national reconciliation in Afghanistan

Senior diplomats from Iran, Pakistan, China and Russia have thrown their weight behind a power-sharing deal in Afghanistan signed between leaders of the country’s two main political factions, expressing hope that the important step would speed up intra-Afghan talks.

Special representatives of Iran, Pakistan, China and Russia for Afghanistan affairs held a virtual meeting on Monday, during which they discussed the latest developments and the process of peace and reconciliation in the war-ravaged country.

In a statement, they expressed their support for the peace process in Afghanistan led by the country’s officials and emphasized that inclusive intra-Afghan talks would be the only way to ensure national reconciliation and end long-lasting conflicts.

The four countries’ diplomats called on all groups and parties in Afghanistan to prepare the ground for immediate opening of dialog among Afghans.

It is expected that the peace and reconciliation process would pave the way for the return of Afghan refugees to their homeland, the statement read.

It also called on the international community to support a timely and respectful repatriation of Afghan refugees.

The four countries’ statement came a day after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, a former official and a rival to the incumbent president, signed a power-sharing deal in a bid to put an end to a months-long feud that plunged the country into a political crisis.

“The Political Agreement between President Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah has just been signed. Dr. Abdullah will lead the National Reconciliation High Council and members of his team will be included in the cabinet,” said Sediq Sediqqi, Ghani’s spokesman, on Twitter on Sunday.

When, after delays over disputed votes, the results of the September 2019 contested presidential election were announced in February by Afghanistan’s election commission and Ghani was declared the winner, Abdullah rejected the results, proclaiming himself to be the president-elect.

The 59-year-old politician, who served as the chief executive officer of the outgoing administration under an earlier power-sharing deal, then held a parallel swearing-in ceremony in the same day that Ghani held his in March, at a time when the US was trying to hammer out a peace deal with the Taliban militant group to end the 19-year Afghan war.

In phone calls to Ghani and Abdullah on Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that the Islamic Republic welcomes the progress made in the national reconciliation process among all political groups in Afghanistan.

During his talks with Afghan political leaders, Zarif assured them that the Islamic Republic is ready to consolidate unity among all groups in Afghanistan.

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