Afghanistan conference in Paris ends on positive note

December 15th, 2008 - 7:15 am ICT by IANS  

Paris, Dec 15 (DPA) Participants at an international conference on peace and security in Afghanistan, which ended Sunday evening in Paris, described the outcome as positive.While no resolutions were expected, Afghanistan and its neighbours pledged to work closely on security issues, increase border security and combat drug smuggling, according to a joint statement issued after the meeting.

According to German diplomats, the goal of the conference was to strengthen regional ties, which are necessary to bring peace to Afghanistan.

The closed-door meeting was attended by representatives from Afghanistan’s neighbours - India, China, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan - as well as top European Union (EU) officials, including the grouping’s foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

“I am very happy to say that all of us have a common position,” Afghanistan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta said after a dinner for the participants Sunday night.

Kai Eide, the UN secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan, described the outcome of the informal meeting as “very positive”.

All the participants agreed that only security and long-term peace in the region could lead to a stable, secure and prosperous Afghanistan.

There was no representation from Iran at the conference. According to French media reports, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki decided not to attend, shortly before the conference’s start.

Tensions between Iran and France have been building in recent weeks after French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he would neither offer his hand to nor share a table with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad because of the latter’s antipathy towards Israel.

Iran responded to those comments with warnings of “serious consequences for bilateral relations”.

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