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Iran accuses US of Afghan ‘double game’
Tehran, Mar 10 (Agencies)
Published on 10 Mar. 2010 10:56 PM IST
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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has accused the US of playing a “double game” in Afghanistan after the US used the same term to condemn Iran’s role. Mr Ahmadinejad said the US had “created terrorists and now say they are fighting them”, as he appeared with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul. US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, who is also in Kabul, has accused Iran of giving the Taliban low-level support. Later, Mr Karzai heads to Pakistan for talks with another key neighbour. This is Mr Ahmadinejad’s first visit to Afghanistan since both he and Mr Karzai were re-elected last year. At a joint press conference with Mr Karzai, Mr Ahmadinejad rejected the presence of foreign military forces “as a solution for peace in Afghanistan”. He said: “Our policy is full support for the Afghan people and Afghan government and reconstruction of Afghanistan.” Mr Gates, who is in Afghanistan to review the progress of the current Western troop surge against the Taliban, had earlier accused Tehran of “playing a double game” of offering friendship to the Afghan government while at the same time giving “low-level support” and money to the Taliban. But Mr Ahmadinejad said it was the US that was playing the “double game”. “They themselves created terrorists and now they’re saying that they are fighting terrorists,” he said. Mr Ahmadinejad criticised the US for its troops’ presence, saying: “Your country is located on the other side of the world, so what are you doing here?” Mr Ahmadinejad said that terrorism could not be defeated by armies, only by intelligence. The BBC’s Quentin Sommerville in Kabul says that President Karzai said little at the joint conference, but thanked President Ahmadinejad for his support and described Iran as a realistic friend. Mr Karzai said: “We are very hopeful that our brother nation of Iran will work with us in bringing peace and security to Afghanistan so that both our countries will be secure.” Mr Gates, attending a base in Kabul province on Wednesday where Western troops are training Afghan soldiers, called Mr Ahmadinejad’s visit “bothersome”. He said the US wanted Afghanistan to have good relations with its neighbours but that those neighbours must treat Afghanistan fairly. He also said US troops might begin to leave Afghanistan before the previously stated withdrawal start date of July 2011, depending on “conditions on the ground”. However, he added: “We should not be too impatient. “At the end of the day, only Afghans will be able to provide long-term security for Afghanistan.” Later on Wednesday Mr Karzai will head to Pakistan, which has been accused in the past of providing a haven to the Afghan Taliban. However, it has recently stepped up its drive to arrest Taliban leaders, including alleged second-in-command Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. The BBC’s Aleem Maqbool in Islamabad says Mr Karzai will want the leaders extradited, while Pakistan will argue for more involvement in regional strategy, particularly if Western troops do begin to leave Afghanistan. Later on Wednesday, Britain’s Foreign Secretary David Miliband is expected to deliver a speech in the US, urging President Karzai to do more to find a political solution to the conflict with the Taliban. The military effort alone will not be enough to resolve the conflict, he is expected to say, and Afghanistan’s neighbours will need to play a central role in securing peace in the country.

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