Afghan President Karzai spent a one-day visit on Sunday in Tehran to discuss regional and international issues. During his visit Karzai did agree on a cooperation pact with Iran while resisting to sign a security agreement with the U.S., reports Reuters.
This trip to Iran occurred while Secretary of Defense Hagel visited U.S. troops in Afghanistan on Saturday.
Afghan President Karzai made the deal on Sunday with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in an agreement to a long-term friendship and cooperation with Iran according to Karzai’s spokesman, Aimal Faizi. He added, ‘The pact will be for long-term political, security, economic and cultural cooperation, regional peace and security.’
Iranian President Rouhani stated after the signing of the pact that Iran opposes the presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan and the region, according to the official IRNA news agency.
IRNA quoted Rouhani as telling Karzai: ‘We believe that all foreign forces should leave the region and that the security of Afghanistan should be handed over to people of the country.’
Rouhani added in his statement that any foreign presence in the region, the Middle East and the Persian Gulf is opposed and creates tension.
Rouhani also said Iran opposes any foreign forces in the region, the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, where the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet has a base in the tiny kingdom of Bahrain.
On Saturday, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel laid out steps to beef up defense cooperation between states within the Gulf region, while at the same time insisting that America's military commitment to the Middle East will continue.
Iran would like to manage security in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf through regional pacts. This is in contrast to Hagel’s speech Saturday to Gulf leaders when he also made it clear that the emerging global agreement that would limit Iran's nuclear program doesn't mean the security threat from the Islamic republic is over.
Iran’s Defense Minister Gen. Hosein Dehghan called the remarks of Hagel ‘threatening’ and added that they pay the way for mistrust toward the U.S. He made remarks that the government in Washington has influence from Israel.
There are currently around 80,000 NATO multinational International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops in Afghanistan, the majority of which are US soldiers who now stand to be pulled out by the end of 2014. NATO is planning to leave a training mission of up to 12,000 soldiers in Afghanistan after 2014 to help Afghan Army fight insurgents.