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Iran support militant groups in Afghanistan: Pompeo

Mike Pompeo. File.

Mike Pompeo. File.   | Photo Credit: AP

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Speaking with reporters at the State Department, Mr. Pompeo said Iran’s involvement in Afghanistan deserved more attention.

Iran support militant groups and is actively working to undermine the ongoing peace process in Afghanistan, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed on Tuesday, cautioning that Taliban’s entanglement with Tehran will only harm peace talks in the war-torn country.

Speaking with reporters at the State Department, Mr. Pompeo said Iran’s involvement in Afghanistan deserved more attention.

“Most people know about Iran’s proxy networks in the Arab world, but the regime also has a relationship with the Taliban and related groups, such as the Haqqanis, the Tora Bora, and the Mullah Dadullah group. The Taliban’s entanglement in Iran’s dirty work will only harm the Afghanistan peace process,” Mr. Pompeo told reporters at a news conference here.

In Afghanistan, there is an aspect of that conflict that deserves more attention, and that is Iran’s involvement there.

“Iran has refused to join the regional and international consensus for peace and is, in fact, today actively working to undermine the peace process by continuing its long global efforts to support militant groups there,” Pompeo said.

U.S. President Donald Trump has prioritised peace efforts in Afghanistan and his special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has initiated direct talks with the Taliban.

Khalilzad has held several rounds of talks with the Afghan Taliban in order to reach a settlement that would allow the U.S. to withdraw its army and end the 17-year-old Afghan war, America’s longest.

Pompeo, while speaking at his maiden New Year News Conference, also said China needed to honour its commitments made to Hong Kong in the Sino-British Joint Declaration filed at the United Nations, asserting that it was the right path.

Pompeo said the US was aware of Luo Huining’s appointment as the new head of the Hong Kong Chinese Central Government Liaison Office.

“The right path, as I’ve said before, is for the Chinese Communist Party to honour its commitments made to Hong Kong in the Sino-British Joint Declaration filed at the United Nations, a commitment that guarantees the territory’s independent rule of law and freedoms that the Chinese living on the mainland unfortunately do not enjoy,” Pompeo said.

The United States will continue to work with Hong Kong and the Chinese Communist Party officials to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong, and to promote the financial hub’s high degree of autonomy, he said.

Hong Kong is a semi-autonomous territory which operates under the ‘one country, two systems’ principle - a structure that grants the city’s citizens some degree of financial and legal independence from the mainland.

The city has been shaken by massive, sometimes violent, protests initially organised to oppose a now-suspended bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China. These protests have now turned into a wider movement for democratic reforms.

Until 1997, Hong Kong was ruled by Britain as a colony but then returned to China.

Under the “one country, two systems” arrangement, it has more autonomy than the mainland. It has its own judiciary and a separate legal system from mainland China.

Pompeo also commended members of Bahrain’s Council of Representatives for their recent statement in which they expressed deep concern over the inhumane and painful conditions to which Uighur Muslims in China are subjected.

“Bahrain is recognising what I’ve been saying for months: the Chinese Communist Party is committing mass human rights violations and abuses against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other Muslims held in detention in Xinjiang,” he said.

“We’re happy with what Bahrain did, and we ask all countries, particularly those belonging to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab League, to denounce the Chinese Communist Party’s brutal treatment of Uighurs, which is part of the party’s broader war on faith,” Pompeo said.

China is facing severe criticism from western countries over persistent reports of mass detention of Uighurs in Xinjiang, bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), in bid to control violent attack by the separatist East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM).

U.N.’s Geneva-based Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination last year said that it was alarmed by “numerous reports of mass detention of ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim minorities”.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 8:19:03 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/iran-support-militant-groups-in-afghanistan-pompeo/article30507430.ece

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