US may seek Delhi’’s help in bringing Tehran onboard in Afghan-Pak region

March 1st, 2009 - 12:50 pm ICT by ANI  


By Naveen Kapoor
New Delhi, Mar.1 (ANI): If the Indo-US civil nuclear deal has strained New Delhi’’s relation with Tehran, It is the Obama regime in Washington which can bring the two civilisational friends together once again.
As Obama shifts the entire focus of its war on terror to the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, a part of the new strategy will be to involve neighboring Iran in solving the morass.
Officials of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) believe that Washington knows that New Delhi shares an excellent relation with Iran, and therefore, it could ask the Indian Government to use its influence to pursue Iran to cooperate and end its uranium enrichment exercise.
Iran’’s geographical proximity to war ravaged Afghanistan makes it a key regional player. The fact that Tehran has contributed over 300 million dollars in development aid to Afghanistan since the 9/11 attacks on the United States and the subsequent 2001 US-led invasion, which toppled the Taliban regime.
Indicating a paradigm shift in US policy since Islamic revolution in 1979, New US president Obama has expressed readiness to hold talks with Iran . Moreover G-8 countries are also pushing the US to include Tehran in the discourse on Afghanistan.
MEA officials believe that New Delhi holds the key in bringing together the two estranged nations which are ideologically poles apart. However, the MEA also believes cooperation between Tehran and the west cannot take off until Iran’’s nuclear issue is resolved.
Highly placed sources have told ANI that as of now, the US has not directly approached New Delhi to moderate on its behalf with Iran.
In January this year, India handed over the 218-kilometre-long Zaranj Delaram Road to Afghanistan. This road connects to Chabahar port in Iran which has huge potential to become an alternate supply route for the western forces battling in the arid southern and western Afghanistan. Currently the material for the NATO and US forces is supplied through volatile North West Frontier Province of Pakistan. Of late, NATO troop supplies have been torched by Taliban supporters near the Khyber Pass.Therefore, if supplies to the troops are routed from Iran, the latter can acquire much needed money for its empty coffers that have been impacted by falling oil prices.
But it is most unlikely that monetary profits will outstrip the anti-West ideology of a clergy-dominated Iran.
What is making the task even more difficult is that this is election year in Iran and any cooperation with the west will not go down well with the ayatollahs and can augur political debacle for the ruling party. Therefore, to sway Tehran, some tough diplomatic maneuverability is required by the New Delhi. Senior MEA officials admit that coordination between the two nations will increase in the coming days. (ANI)

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