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U.S. even mulling Iran route to supply troops in Afghanistan: NYT

Mehr News Agency - The U.S. is seeking new supply routes for the war in Afghanistan that would bypass Russia, and has even had logistics experts review overland roads through Iran that might be used by NATO allies, the New York Times reported on Thursday.

Military planners and Pentagon officials told the Times that the effort aims to find alternatives to the risky Khyber Pass routes in Pakistan and to prepare for the possible loss of Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan. The planning also reflects concerns that Russia could use its clout to restrict shipments through its territory.

Pentagon and military officials cautioned that the United States was not in any way considering the use of overland routes through Iran for American supplies, as Tehran and Washington have been at odds for about thirty years, the Times reported.

American officials say that recent overtures from the Obama administration toward Iran - Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton last week proposed a conference on Afghanistan that would include Iran - did not encompass any use of Iranian roads.

But Pentagon and NATO planners, as part of an effort to consider every contingency, have studied Iranian routes from the port of Chabahar, on the Arabian Sea, that link with a new road recently completed by India in western Afghanistan. The route is considered shorter and safer than going through Pakistan.

"In the course of prudent planning, our military planners have looked at virtually every conceivable avenue of supplying our forces in Afghanistan," said Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary. "However, as you would expect, they have done so with an eye on logistical feasibility rather than political reality."

... Payvand News - 03/13/09 ... --

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