January 4th, 2008 04:26 EST
Afghanistan calls on Iran to delay decision on refugees
Afghanistan's government called Thursday on Iran to delay its decision to expel or punish more than a million Afghan refugees living there without proper documents.
Tehran has said it has warned one-and-a-half-million Afghan refugees living in Iran without proper papers that they face arrest and detention in camps for up to five years.
Afghan foreign ministry spokesman Sultan Ahmad Baheen said his government was not "formally" told about the move but called on the Iranian authorities to delay their decision.
"We've not formally received what we see in media. But we believe what is being said in media is not inconsistent with what we've agreed over," he said, referring to dialogue between Kabul and Tehran over the issue in recent months.
"We hope that those decisions are not executed at least during the freezing months of the winter," he told a news conference in Kabul.
Baheen said a government delegation would "very soon" travel to Tehran to discuss the topic and other related issues with Iranian officials.
Afghanistan has complained over the speed of the expulsions, saying the country does not have the capacity at the moment to absorb the returning refugees.
More than two million Afghans live in Iran while a similar number remain in eastern Pakistan after they fled war and unrest in their homeland over the past three decades.
Afghanistan News Center