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    US presence fuelling insecurity in region: Iran

    KABUL (PAN): The Iranian interior minister said on Tuesday a US presence and planned permanent military bases in Afghanistan were against regional interests.

    It is the US presence that is fuelling insecurity in the region, Mohammad Mustafa Najjar told a press conference in Kabul on Tuesday.

    Flanked by his Afghan counterpart, Bismillah Mohammadi, the visiting minister said: "Foreign forces, as soon as they reached the region, brought insecurity and terrorists with them."

    "Experience has proved the fact that outsiders have done nothing for this region, which should be left to its people and governments," Najjar said ahead of his meetings with President Karzai and other officials.

    The foreigners came to the region with the promise of strengthening its security, but their presence contributed to instability and drug production, he continued.

    Expansion of relations with Afghanistan remained a top priority for Iran, he said, accusing the West of trying to friendship between the neighbours.

    A day earlier, International Security Assistance Force spokesman, Josef Blotz, told reporters in Kabul that some elements in Iran were aiding Afghan insurgents.

    Local security forces have also claimed several times seizing made-in-Iran weapons in different parts of Afghanistan.

    But Mohammadi said there was no evidence of Iran's involvement in fomenting trouble in Afghanistan or providing arms to insurgent groups.

    The Iranian minister called for greater bilateral cooperation in the war on terrorism and drug trafficking. He also stressed the need for expanding trade ties.

    Three months back, the government in Tehran kept stranded about 1,800 fuel tankers of Afghan businessmen on the Iranian side of the border.

    Mohammadi said they discussed a number of issues of mutual interest, including the campaign against terrorism, narcotics smuggling and organised crime.

    frm/mud



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