Iran agrees to re­lease fuel tankers: Afghan VP

The Pak Banker - - 6i Nternational -

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

JAVA: This photo shows In­done­sian min­ers fill­ing bas­kets with sul­phur be­fore car­ry­ing them from the bot­tom of the crater of In­done­sia's ac­tive Ka­jah Iwen vol­cano, in the ex­treme east of Java Is­land. -Ap

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