Iran seeks to direct Afghan game | world | Hindustan Times
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Iran seeks to direct Afghan game

Worried that US troops could stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014, Iran is mounting an aggressive campaign to fuel anti-American sentiment here and convince Afghan leaders that a robust, long-term security partnership with Washington would be counterproductive, Afghan officials and analysts say.

world Updated: Jan 06, 2012 00:14 IST
Ernesto Londoño

Worried that US troops could stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014, Iran is mounting an aggressive campaign to fuel anti-American sentiment here and convince Afghan leaders that a robust, long-term security partnership with Washington would be counterproductive, Afghan officials and analysts say.

The Iranian initiative involves cultivating closer relations with the Taliban, funding politicians and media outlets, and expanding cultural ties with its eastern neighbour.

Although the effort has been underway for years, Iran has been moving with increased vigor in recent months because the US and Afghanistan are negotiating a security agreement that could set the parameters for a US troop presence here after 2014.

Iran’s overtures to the Taliban coincide with a renewed push by Washington to hold peace talks with the insurgent group in Qatar, as well as growing tension between Iran and the United States in the Persian Gulf.

Tehran inked a bilateral defence agreement with Afghanistan last month. As the deal was being finalised, Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi argued that foreign military bases in the region are the main cause of instability here. He expressed confidence that Afghanistan’s nascent security forces could secure the country without US help.

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