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Iran opposes Afghan pact it says US had ‘no right’ to sign

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Activists of Jamiat Ulema-e Islam Nazryate party march as they celebrate the signing agreement between the US and the Taliban during a rally in Quetta on March 1, 2020. The United States signed a landmark deal with the Taliban on February 29, laying out a timetable for a full troop withdrawal from Afghanistan within 14 months as it seeks an exit from its longest war.<br /> Banaras KHAN / AFP

Iran voiced its opposition Sunday to an Afghanistan accord between the United States and the Taliban, saying Americans had no right to decide on the country’s future.

“The United States has no legal right to sign a peace agreement or to decide the future of Afghanistan,” the foreign ministry said in a statement issued a day after the pact was inked in the Qatari capital.

After 18 years of war, the US and the Taliban signed an agreement in Doha on Saturday that paves the way for a 14-month timetable for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Afghanistan, provided the militants open talks with Kabul and fulfil other pledges.

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Ahead of the signing ceremony, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had warned Iran against trying to scuttle the agreement.

“There is a history of Iran engaging in activity inside of Afghanistan to act as a spoiler,” Pompeo said.

In its statement, Iran called for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, saying their presence “is illegal and is one of the main causes of the war and insecurity in that country”.

Iran said a lasting peace deal could “only be achieved through inter-Afghan dialogue with the participation of all political groups, including the Taliban, and taking into account the considerations of neighbouring countries.”

It added: “We believe that the United Nations has the capacity to facilitate negotiations among Afghans and to monitor and ensure the implementation of agreements reached.”

Tensions have sharply escalated between Tehran and Washington since May 2018, when US President Donald Trump withdrew from a deal that gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.

The arch enemies have appeared to come to the brink of an all-out confrontation twice since then.

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