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NATO seeks Iran help over Afghanistan

Press TV - NATO says member states can use Iran as a safe supply path to forces in Afghanistan, amid increasing attacks on its routes through Pakistan.

"NATO is looking at flexible, alternate routing. I think that is healthy," top NATO military commander Gen. John Craddock said, in response to a question about using Iranian territory for supply.

"Options are a good thing, choices are a good thing, flexibility in military operations is essential...What nations will do is up to them," he added.

Craddock's comments came as Pakistani militants blew up a bridge in northern parts of the country, cutting off the Khyber Pass, a key NATO route where up to 75% of the coalition's supplies cross over to Afghanistan.

Last week, the chief of NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said West could only win the war in Afghanistan if it engages with all the countries neighboring Afghanistan, including Iran.

"To my mind, we need a discussion that brings in all the relevant regional players: Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, China, Russia, and yes, Iran. We need a pragmatic approach to solve this very real challenge," Scheffer said.

Later on the week, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen and the commander of US forces in the Middle East, General David Petraeus joined the NATO secretary general in calling for a 'regional approach' to calm Afghanistan's volatile situation.

"With respect to Afghanistan, a regional approach is critical... Iran, as a bordering state, plays a role as well," said Mullen.

A number of analysts believe that direct engagement with Iran, a country with a vast and secure border with Afghanistan, makes sense as Tehran has a real interest in a secure neighbor.

This could also serve as an opportunity for Western states to get closer to Iran which is now seen a key power in the Middle East.

... Payvand News - 02/03/09 ... --

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