Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Tuesday called for a “responsible” withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.
“A responsible pullout of foreign forces from Afghanistan – along with a smooth and effective transfer of their duties to the Afghan security forces – will be a step toward lasting peace,” Zarif told in a virtual address to a global donor conference for Afghanistan in Geneva, Switzerland.
Zarif said “the military approach” to bring about peace in Afghanistan has failed and the presence of foreign troops has become “a long-standing problem” for the war-torn country.
The top diplomat said Iran has always supported inter-Afghan dialogue led by the Afghans that included the Taliban.
He expressed Tehran’s readiness for cooperation and called on the United Nations to have “a pivotal role” in facilitating inter-Afghan dialogue.
Zarif noted that Iran hosted more than three million Afghans despite “brutal US economic war” against the Islamic Republic.
Donor nations meet every four years to pledge aid to Afghanistan, which is almost entirely reliant on foreign assistance.
Dozens of nations pledged billions of dollars in aid for the country, hoping that peace negotiations recently begun between the government and the Taliban will end nearly two decades of war.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani urged the international community to keep supporting Afghanistan.
"We ask our international partners to help us do more with less... Financial resources – aid – will continue to be critical to our growth for the foreseeable future," Ghani said, joining the virtual conference in a video link from Kabul
“Despite our suffering, I want to be very clear that our commitment to negotiations with the Taliban remains firm...we must bring an end to the violence that is haunting our lives and robbing our children of the joys of childhood,” he added.
The Taliban and the Afghan government have been engaged in peace talks in Qatar since September 12 but no progress has been announced so far.
"Our commitment to negotiations with the Taliban remains firm," Ghani said.
But he said violence had "skyrocketed" since a US-Taliban deal in February paved the way for the withdrawal of foreign forces by May 2021.
Also addressing the conference, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a cease-fire as soon as possible.
The European Union pledged 1.2 billion euros ($1.43 billion) over four years but emphasized aid was conditional on strict requirements.
“Afghanistan’s future trajectory must preserve the democratic and human rights gains since 2001, most notably as regards to women and children’s rights,” said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.
Reuters and AFP contributed to this story.