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Monday, 30 March 2009

Iran, India may join US war in Afghanistan

By Anwar Iqbal 

Friday, 27 Mar

WASHINGTON: A key US senator said on Thursday that the United States and Iran might begin their cooperation for stabilising Afghanistan after a meeting between officials of the two countries in The Hague next week.

‘We also need to reach out to Afghanistan’s other neighbours, including India, China, and Iran,’ Senator John Kerry told the confirmation hearing for the new US ambassador to Afghanistan.

The former Democratic presidential candidate, who now heads the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, noted that in 2001 and 2002, Iran helped to stabilise Afghanistan. ‘And the Obama administration is right to explore how our interests might coincide again on this issue, beginning at the Hague Conference next week,’ he added.

Earlier on Thursday, Hasan Qashqavi, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, told reporters in Tehran that Iran would join the United States at two international conferences on Afghanistan, including the one at The Hague which begins on March 31.

‘The level of participation is yet to be determined,’ he added. Last week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton officially invited Iran to the Hague conference.

The US move is seen in Tehran as a moral victory for the Iranian government, which was castigated by the Bush administration as part of an ‘Axis of Evil’.

Although the US still plays a leading role in the campaign against Iran’s nuclear programme, the US decision to involve it in its efforts to stabilise Afghanistan enhances the stature of the Iranian government.

Both the Afghan President Hamid Karzai and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon are expected to attend. Other attendees will include foreign ministers from countries in the region, countries that are part of the International Security Assistance Force and other countries and organisations that are contributing to reconstruction in Afghanistan.

At the confirmation hearing, Senator Kerry outlined some of the salient features of a new US strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, which is expected to be announced on Friday.

The new strategy also seeks to triple US economic assistance to Pakistan and a greater engagement with the Afghans.

‘I will soon be re-introducing with Senator Lugar the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act, which seeks to triple non-military aid to the people of Pakistan,’ Senator Kerry said.

The proposed legislation will also hold Pakistan’s ‘security forces more accountable for assistance provided in their fight against the Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda,’ he added.

Senator Richard Lugar, a ranking Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which authorises US foreign aid, also has pledged to support the bill.

‘We can all agree that today Afghanistan, along with its neighbour Pakistan, represents the central front in our global campaign against terrorism,’ Senator Kerry told the confirmation hearing.

Referring to the new strategy, Senator Kerry stressed the need for a regional approach for bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan. ‘Our strategy must also reflect the interconnectedness of the region’s challenges,’ he said.

‘This requires redoubling our efforts to strengthen Pakistan’s civilian government and support its activities against militants in the tribal belt.’ That’s why, he said, he was seeking to triple US assistance to Pakistan.

Senator Kerry noted that President Barak Obama has pledged to recommit to Afghanistan, beginning with the deployment of 17,000 additional US troops and a significant effort to increase the size and capacity of Afghan security forces. He said while he supported this move, he also believed that ‘troops alone will not bring victory.’


1 comment:

  1. Today’s attack on Lahore is not Islam, Islam teach us humility, love and compassion for fellow human beings, Islam tell us to respect, women, elder and anything which is beneficial to humans even when at war. Let’s call these people what they are, they are our fascists who want a totalitarian version of their own perverted view of Islam to subjugate the free people of Pakistan.


    By Sikander Hayat