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Iraq and Afghanistan to resume ties soon: diplomats

world Updated: Jun 05, 2009 13:07 IST

AFP
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Iraq and Afghanistan are planning to resume diplomatic relations 'very soon', 12 years after they were severed during the days of Saddam Hussein and the Taliban, a senior Afghan diplomat said.

"We sent a message from our chief diplomat to his Iraqi counterpart about the resumption of diplomatic relations between our two countries and the reopening of our embassies in Kabul and Baghdad," Fazlerrahman Fazil, a senior Afghan consular official, told AFP late on Thursday.

"We have been received very well here, and we will discuss it when we return (to Kabul), and take a joint decision very soon," said Abdulraqeeb Salim, a senior official in the Afghan foreign ministry's Arab countries division.

The Afghan embassy in Baghdad, in the western Amariyah district, is currently in poor condition and is in need of a great deal of renovation.

The two countries have been bound by a treaty of friendship since 1932, the year of Iraq's independence.

The Afghan diplomats said they had also held talks with officials in Iraq's interior and justice ministries over the fate of around 100 Afghans, including three women and a child, imprisoned for illegally entering or residing in Iraq.

Of the Afghans in Iraqi jails, the majority are pilgrims who visited holy Shiite sites between 2004 and 2007 and, having been convicted, face penalties of between six months and six years in prison. Around 15 percent of Afghanistan's population are Shiite.

"They proposed that (Afghan) President Hamid Karzai write to his Iraqi counterpart Jalal Talabani to request an amnesty," Fazil said.

The diplomats also met a tourism ministry official to discuss opening air links and the issue of 100 visas a day for Afghan pilgrims.