TEHRAN (Agencies) - The leaders of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran agreed on Saturday to join forces in combating militancy as they attended a counter-terrorism summit. The joint statement by the three neighbouring presidents followed an announcement by US President Barack Obama that Washington will withdraw 33,000 of its 99,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of next summer. 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, the statement said. They agreed to continue meetings at ministerial level ahead of the next summit in Islamabad before the end of 2011, added the statement carried by Irans official IRNA news agency. Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Iranian and Pakistani counterparts Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Asif Ali Zardari held three-way talks on Friday ahead of Saturdays six-nation counter-terrorism gathering. The three leaders discussed ways of battling terrorism, extremism and drug trafficking, IRNA said. Addressing the two-day international conference on Global Fight Against Terrorism, President Asif Ali Zardari vowed not to let the terrorists succeed and called for collective global efforts to counter the growing threat of terrorism. Terrorists violate both human and divine values by inflicting death and destruction on fellow human beings. They have no religion, President Zardari said. Our forces are in the trenches, the very front line in the great battle of the 21st century. 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, he told the meeting. Zardari said attacks had resulted in the deaths of 35,000 people in Pakistan, 5,000 of them law enforcement personnel, and material damage totalling $67 billion. Zardari called for addressing the root cause of terrorism and fighting the mindset by giving the people hope. He said the way to defeat terrorism was to provide jobs, education and health care for all. The way to win this war is to give hope to our people in the future, he said and warned that violence begets violence. All must avoid senseless use of force ... ensure respect for the rule of law and due process. He said respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of states must be the basic principle of fight against terrorism. He said Pakistan supports the idea of a counter narrative to win the battle for hearts and minds. It is only by defeating the terrorists on the ideological front that victory could be achieved. Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that despite his governments efforts, militancy was rising across the region. 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. In his speech, Ahmadinejad again accused United States of using the September 11, 2001 attacks as a pretext to send troops to the region. In light of the way it was approached and exploited, September 11 is very much like the Holocaust, Ahmadinejad charged. The American government used the attacks as a pretext to occupy two countries, and kill, injure and displace people in the region. If the black box of the Holocaust and September 11 is opened, many of the realities will come to light. But unfortunately despite worldwide demand, the American government has not allowed it. Ahmadinejad has repeatedly courted controversy by questioning the accepted version of both the September 11 attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people, and the Holocaust. He has dubbed 9/11 a big lie and a suspect affair similar to the Nazi Holocaust, which he dismissed as a myth after coming to power in 2005, triggering international outrage. Irans supreme leader accused the United States of supporting terrorism, pointing to American drone strikes in Pakistan and Afghanistan that allegedly have killed scores of civilians. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said drone attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the downing of an Iranian civil airliner by a US warship in 1988 and the assassination of two Iranian nuclear scientists - for which no one has claimed responsibility - were incidents from a shameful and unforgettable list of US terrorism. In a message to the counter-terrorism conference, which was also attended by the leaders of Iraq, Sudan and Tajikistan, Khamenei spoke out against what called Western abuse of the terrorist threat. The diabolical calculation of the dominating powers is to exploit terrorism as a tool to gain their illegitimate aims and they have used it in their plans, he said in the message which was read to the conference. In their view, terrorism is whatever threatens their interests. They consider those who are fighting for their legitimate right against occupiers as terrorists but do not consider their mercenaries and malicious groups who harm innocent people as terrorists. In a private meeting on the sidelines of the conference, Khamenei told Karzai he believed Washington wanted a permanent military presence in Afghanistan. As long as American soldiers are present in Afghanistan, real security will not be established, he was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani reiterated a point made by all speakers, that Islam must not be perverted to justify terrorism and warned foreign countries against supporting groups like al Qaeda. There is a mistaken understanding in some regions that those believe themselves of the Islamic faith use Islam to further their evil aims, whereas Islam is about peace and must be used against the phenomenon of terrorism. This phenomenon nearly destroyed our country and those who are supported wither financially or otherwise by foreign countries are mistaken, Talabani said. Meanwhile, President Zardari called on the Irans supreme leader, Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, and discussed various challenges faced by the Muslim Ummah and the need to bring unity in their ranks to effectively tackle the problems. During the meeting held on the sidelines of terror moot, President Zardari and Iranian supreme leader also exchanged views on bilateral, regional and global issues of concern, besides the fight against militancy. Zardari said Pakistan attaches great importance to its cordial equation with Iran and regards it as an important friend and player in the region, adding that the ties between the two countries are rooted in historical, cultural and religious bonds. Zardari said our approach on ongoing developments in North Africa, Middle East and Gulf region was based on the principles of respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of states and that of non-intervention and non-interference. He said the Organisation of Islamic Conference could play a decisive role in dealing with the challenges presently confronting the Ummah. Those who were present during the meeting included: Ms Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Petroleum Minister Dr Asim Hussain, Pakistans Ambassador in Iran Khalid Aziz Babar and spokesperson to the President Farhatullah Babar. Iranian President Ahmadinejad was also present during the meeting.