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Thursday, March 12, 2009

US eyeing Iran as its NATO supply route?

Thu, 12 Mar 2009 15:15:34 GMT | PressTV

Iran becomes the best possible US supply route to Afghanistan as Kyrgyzstan closes the Manas base and Pakistan fails to protect its convoys.

Following several attacks on NATO convoys in Pakistan's Khyber Pass and the Kyrgyz parliament's decision to close the Manas air base, which has been used by the US military to bring supplies into Afghanistan since 2001, American logistic experts were forced to look for an alternative supply route.

The New York Times quoted Pentagon officials as saying that after reviewing the overland roads from the port of Chabahar that link with a new road in western Afghanistan, experts had suggested Iran as a possible supply route.

"In the course of prudent planning, our military planners have looked at virtually every conceivable avenue of supplying our forces in Afghanistan," said Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell.

Pentagon officials say Washington will not consider sending NATO supplies via Iran despite the route being shorter and safer than that of Pakistan.

US President Barack Obama said in his first White House news conference that he saw the possibility of diplomatic openings with Iran in the months ahead where both sides "can start sitting across the table, face to face" -- a move that his predecessor George W. Bush had long opposed.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, however, has already invited Iran to a conference on Afghanistan which will be held in Italy in June.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi responded to the invitation on Wednesday by saying that Iran was willing to become actively involved in the reconstruction of Afghanistan as well as working toward peace and stability in the country.

Iran also helped the US in the war against the Taliban to the extent that former US special envoy to Kabul James Dobbin said "few countries were as helpful to the United States -- in its early involvement in Afghanistan -- as Iran."

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