KABUL: The Taliban-led Afghan government has expressed the desire to have free trade and visa-free movement with its six neighbouring countries and form a union on the pattern of the European Union.
These ideas were discussed at an international seminar jointly organised by the Peshawar-based Institute of Regional Studies (IRS) and Kabul-based Centre for Strategic and Regional Studies (CSRS) in collaboration with the Afghan Ministry for Foreign Affairs here.
Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai was the chief guest at the event that was also addressed by Afghan Minister for Public Health Dr Qalandar Ebad, Minister of Commerce and Industries, Nooruddin Azizi and Adviser to the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation Qari Mahmood Shah.
More than 100 academicians, scholars, researchers and experts in different fields like health and trade from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran attended the event. A number of research papers were also presented by researchers in various panels arranged on the sidelines of the conference. Director IRS Dr Mohammad Iqbal Khalil and Director CSRS Dr Shah Rukh Raufi also spoke about the aims and objectives of the event.
It seemed quite encouraging that functionaries of the Afghan government and dignitaries from Afghanistan and its neighbouring countries were discussing ideas about the development of Afghanistan and improving its ties with neighbouring countries in one hall of the spiralling hotel. While another event was simultaneously taking place in an adjacent space of the same facility to find out ways and means for promoting investment in the war-ravaged country, whose new government is yet to be recognised by the world nations.
Abbas Stanekzai categorically explained at the seminar the Afghan government's standpoint on all the burning issues. He was thankful to Pakistan and Iran for hosting millions of Afghan refugees for four decades.
In the same breath, he expressed his concerns over the sufferings of the Afghans going to and coming from the two countries on the border. The Afghan government representative said that the Afghans were facing intolerable difficulties at the borders. He said that they had asked the governments of both countries to ease up the border restrictions, hoping the two countries would facilitate the Afghans at the borders.
The Afghan deputy foreign minister said that Afghanistan wanted a union with the neighbouring countries on the pattern of the European Union and they were in favour of opening borders with all the six neighbours.
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