Amid Iran-US tensions, Afghanistan says territory will not be used

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Kabul, Jan 4 (IANS) Amid a flare up in tensions between the United States and Iran over the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Iraq, Afghanistan – home to thousands of US troops – has said its soil will not be used against its neighbors.

The government of Kabul expressed concern over the escalation in violence in the region as a result of the US airstrike on Iraqi soil that killed one of Iran’s top leaders, Efe news reported.

“The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan assures its people and all its neighboring countries that as per the Security Agreement with the United States, the Afghanistan soil under no circumstances will be used against any foreign country,” the Afghan presidential palace said in a statement late on Friday.

The presidential palace said president Ashraf Ghani on Friday held a telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in which the president said Afghan soil would not be used against any third country.

Afghanistan, which shares a border with Iran, expressed its concern over the “possible escalation of violence in the region,” and urged both the US and neighboring Iran to avoid an “escalation of violence.”

It also called on the parties to resolve their differences through dialog.

The note said the government is carefully following the developments in the region and is committed to the preservation and expansion of its relations with all countries.

Despite the presence of thousands of US troops in Afghanistan for nearly 18 years, Afghanistan has been experiencing normal relations with its neighboring countries, including Iran.

Soleimani, who was the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force and the architect of several powerful Shia militias across the Middles East region, was killed in a US strike near Baghdad International Airport.

The governments of Islamabad and New Delhi also expressed their concern over the events in the Middle East and consequences they could have for the region.

The Pakistani government urged the parties to exercise maximum moderation and solve their problems through diplomatic channels.

India’s Foreign Ministry acknowledged the death of the Iranian leader and said in a statement that peace, stability and security were of utmost importance to the country.

–IANS

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