Karzai salutes Iran on eve of Khatami visit to Afghanistan
Afghan President Hamid Karzai emphasized the importance Monday of relations with neighboring Iran, the day before his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Khatami makes a landmark visit to Kabul.
"For us, relations with Iran are vital, and Khatami's visit will be a turning point in our relationship," Kharzai told Iranian state television on the eve of Khatami's visit. "We appreciate Iran's aid for the reconstruction of our country, and its role for peace and stability in the region," he added, according to AFP.
Khatami heads to the Afghani capital of Kabul on Tuesday in a bid to cement ties with a government of which it was a key supporter when it opposed the Taliban but whose close ties with Washington have aroused growing suspicion in Tehran. The Iranian leader will be accompanied by a high-level political, economic and cultural delegation for the visit, the first by an Iranian head of state since the Taliban's overthrow in November last year, triggered by the fundamentalist group's role as host to the Islamist Al-Qaeda "terror" network of Osama bin Laden.
Meanwhile, an Iranian government spokesman said Sunday the talks between Khatami and his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Kharzai, would deal with security issues and the illegal drug trade along the nations' shared 900-kilometer border.
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)