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IRGC to Remain Along Afghan Border, Commander

TEHRAN (AFP) - The head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said the elite force will remain along the Afghan border as long as the Taliban are in power in Kabul, newspapers reported yesterday.

"We will stay in the area until there is a stable and popularly supported government in Afghanistan," said General Rahim Safavi, adding that their presence would not be "permanent."

He said the force had remained in charge of border security ever since last year, when 70,000 revolutionary guards held maneuvers in the region after the Taliban killed eight Iranian diplomats and a journalist in Afghanistan.

Iran supports opposition forces fighting the Taliban, which ousted Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani in 1996 and now controls some 80 percent of the country.

It does not recognize the Taliban government and has vowed not to normalize relations with Afghanistan until the killers of the nine Iranians are brought to justice.

Meanwhile, state television reported that Iran's national police chief General Hedayat Lotfian inspected troop units near the border yesterday as a personal representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, who is also commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces.


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