Iran agrees to release fuel tankers: Afghan VP
TEHRAN: Afghan Vice President Mohammad Qasim Fahim said on Sunday that Iran has agreed to lift a ban on fuel tankers crossing into Afghanistan that has left hundreds of trucks stranded at the border.
"We discussed the fuel tankers which have been stopped at the border and agreements were reached (to allow them) to enter Afghanistan, so that the fuel problem is resolved," ISNA news agency quoted Qasim Fahim as saying at a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart in Tehran.
Iran has in the past three weeks prevented around 1,600 trucks from crossing the border, believing that they are being used to supply US-led NATO troops fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Kabul says the tankers are bringing fuel to meet the increased demand by ordinary Afghans during the winter months.
The halting of the tankers had threatened to push up already-skyrocketing fuel prices in Afghanistan at the start of winter.
Around 30 percent of Afghanistan's fuel is thought to come through transport routes from Iran, with much of the rest coming through the central Asian republics which border Afghanistan.
Qasim Fahim arrived in Tehran on Saturday on an unannounced visit. In a separate report, state news agency IRNA said that Iran's Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi had promised military cooperation with Afghanistan.
"We are prepared to offer our experience and capabilities to strengthen the Afghan army," Vahidi was quoted as telling Qasim Fahim.
Iran has regularly called for the exit of US-led foreign troops from Afghanistan, citing their presence as the cause of violence in its eastern neighbour. Relations between Afghanistan, Iran and the United States-whose troops make up roughly two-thirds of the coalition force-are highly complex and sensitive.
Kabul insists that Iran, as a neighbouring country, has a legitimate concern in helping the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan. But some in the US are concerned that Tehran could be funding insurgents or trying to play on anti-Western sentiment in Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government. -Afp
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