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Afghanistan Plans Cooperation Pact with Iran

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani (R) speaks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai during their meeting at Tehran's Saadabad Palace Dec. 8, 2013.
An Afghan official says President Hamid Karzai agreed to pursue a cooperation pact with Iran.

Karzai discussed the deal with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during a visit to Tehran Sunday, while the U.S. defense secretary was wrapping up a visit to Afghanistan. Karzai has delayed signing a security agreement with the United States that would determine the future of U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

Aimal Faizi, a spokesman for the Afghan leader, told the Reuters news agency that Afghanistan had agreed to a long-term friendship and cooperation pact with Iran. He said the pact would cover "long-term political, security, economic and cultural cooperation, regional peace and security."

Faizi said a formal document would be prepared and signed soon.

The meeting between the Afghan and Iranian presidents came shortly after U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel arrived in Kabul. Hagel said he was told by the Afghan Defense Minister that a U.S.-Afghan security pact would be signed in a "timely manner" despite Karzai's reluctance.

The Iranian government has said it supports Karzai's position and has urged Afghanistan not to sign the proposed agreement.