Iranian and Pakistani military leaders discuss cooperation, Afghanistan

The military chiefs of staff of Iran and Pakistan met near Islamabad and pledged to strengthen ties.

Iranian and Pakistani military leaders vowed to improved cooperation and discussed Afghanistan on Wednesday.

Maj. Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces, met his Pakistani counterpart Gen. Nadeem Raza in Rawalpindi south of Pakistan’s capital Islamabad. The two delegations expressed a “serious desire” to expand cooperation between the Iranian and Pakistani militaries. They also discussed the situation in neighboring Afghanistan, Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Iran and Pakistan have an important relationship. Last December, the two countries opened up a second border crossing between their territories.

Afghanistan is also a priority for both states. Pakistan hosts more than one million Afghan refugees and has longstanding ties to the Taliban. Iranian politicians are divided over how to handle the post-US military withdrawal situation in the country. Reformists want the Islamic Republic to stand by “resistance” fighters in the Panjshir valley and defend the country’s Shiite Hazara community. Conservatives, on the other hand, have been more open to working with the Taliban, which has an extreme Sunni Islamist ideology.

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