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This project seeks to identify and analyse key security-related issues and challenges in the relations between Afghanistan and its neighbours, particularly the Islamic Republic of Iran, as well as with the international community. These challenges include drug trafficking and international counter-narcotics efforts; large-scale population displacements and labour migration; and regional political and security cooperation.
The project is designed to explore ways to enhance regional cooperation in order to more effectively address these shared problems and concerns at a time when political relations can stand in the way of developing a cooperative framework. The rationale for a regional approach has intensified with the signal that the current international security presence will be significantly reduced up to 2014. In this context, there is a clear imperative to encourage regional dialogue on how to strengthen cooperation amongst Afghanistan's main stakeholders in ways that can reinforce the stability of the country and consolidate the process of transition.
Iran has been significantly affected by the conflict in Afghanistan. The burden placed on Iran and other neighboring states by the consequences of the situation in Afghanistan has been disproportionately high. Today, Iran sees considerable opportunities in a stable and peaceful Afghanistan and has important interests in stabilizing the situation in Afghanistan. At the same time, Iran has a complex relationship to the United States and its allies as well as important areas of tension with some of its neighbours. Identifying ways to forge new types of cooperation will have to include strategies for overcoming the legacies of mutual distrust and hostility.
One of the main objectives of the project is to provide opportunities for greater contacts and exchanges within the expert community and to thereby promote a genuine international dialogue on regional security and political issues related to Afghanistan. With this in mind, SIPRI has commissioned authoritative experts and scholars to prepare a series of papers devoted to key issues and challenges affecting regional cooperation on Afghanistan.