Afghan-Iran pact will not affect U.S. postwar plans, says U.S. diplomat

A recent security cooperation pact between Afghanistan and Iran will have no effect on ongoing postwar talks with Washington, a top U.S. diplomat told Congress. 

"At this point I would not attach a lot of importance to it," Ambassador James Dobbins, U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told the Senate Foreign Relations panel on Tuesday. 

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The Afghan-Iran deal represents a "long-term friendship and cooperation pact" with Iran that "will be for long-term political, security, economic and cultural cooperation, regional peace," according to Karzai's spokesman Aimal Faizi. 

On Tuesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani again blasted Afghanistan's pending deal with the United States. 

“We are concerned about tension arising out of the presence of foreign forces in the region, believing that all foreign forces should get out of the region and the task of guaranteeing Afghan security should be entrusted to the country’s people,” Rouhani told Iranian state-run news agency IRNA. 

During the hearing, committee members pressed Dobbins on the possible ramifications of the deal, regarding a possible U.S. postwar presence in Afghanistan after 2014. 

That is the deadline set by President Obama to have all active combat units out of the country. 

The postwar plan under negotiation, known as the bilateral security agreement, would set the stage for a a 9,000- to 10,000-man postwar force in Afghanistan, as part of 15,000-man NATO force tasked with training and counterterrorism missions. 

On Tuesday, Dobbins told committee members Iran's opposition to a U.S. postwar force did not align with the rest of Afghanistan's regional partners. 

Outside of Tehran, "there is a quite a remarkable...consensus" from regional powers for American troops to remain in Afghanistan after 2014, Dobbins said. 

That said, "I'm not getting to excited about" the Afghan-Iran pact, he added.