The leaders of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan have pledged to work together to combat terrorism, following three-way talks in the Iranian capital, Tehran.

The three presidents agreed to work towards "eliminating extremism" during their talks, ahead of a six-nation counterterrorism summit in Tehran on Saturday.

"All sides stressed their commitment to efforts aimed at eliminating extremism, militancy, terrorism, as well as rejecting foreign interference, which is in blatant opposition to the spirit of Islam, the peaceful cultural
traditions of the region and its peoples' interests," they said in a statement carried by Iran's official IRNA news agency.

"All sides agreed to continue meeting at foreign, interior, security and economy ministers' level to prepare a roadmap for the next summit due to be held in Islamabad before the end of 2011," the statement read.

'Terrorism expanding'

The joint announcement came as several world leaders gathered in the capital for talks on addressing global terrorism.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's president, used the summit's opening address to call for a new approach to fighting terrorism.

He said poverty, discrimination and humiliation were the root causes of terrorism, which is used by "evil doers" to reach their inhuman goals, the IRNA news agency cited him as saying.

Ahmadinejad told delegates that Washington, Israel and Europe were the worst culprits.

"It is unfortunate that I have to announce that the individuals and groups responsible for these [terrorist]
incidents are supported by certain European governments and some American politicians," Ahmadinejad told the "International Conference on Global Fight Against Terrorism".

By accusing the West, Iran was turning the tables on accusations that Tehran supports groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, which are considered terrorist organisations by Israel and its Western allies.

'Great battle of the 21st century'

Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani president, who has backed Washington's actions against fighters in his country, spoke of a "war" on terrorism.

"Our forces are in the trenches, the very front line in the great battle of the 21st century," he told the meeting.

"We are fighting a war that will determine not only the future of my country but the future of your countries and the entire world."

Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, later told summit participants that extremism was on the rise in both his country and the region, despite his government's efforts to combat it.

"Unfortunately, despite all the achievements in the fields of education, infrastructure and reconstruction, not only has Afghanistan not yet achieved peace and security, but terrorism is expanding and threatening more than ever Afghanistan and the region," Karzai said.

"Peace, stability in our country are truly threatened. All countries in the region must help fight terrorism, since terrorism has such power that no nation can be spared," Karzai told his fellow leaders.

"The problems of Afghanistan should be settled through dialogue," he said, in comments that came as a suicide bomber blew up a vehicle at a medical clinic in Afghanistan's eastern Logar province.

International and Afghan troops are battling to regain large parts of Afghanistan from the Taliban.

Source: Agencies