US looks for Afghan supply routes even in Iran: Report


Washington : US military officials are exploring alternative supply routes for NATO and Afghan troops in Afghanistan that include Iran, the New York Times reported Thursday.

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The newspaper also reported that the question of the US base in Kyrgyzstan at the Manas base could be revived in the coming days when US negotiators travel there. The Kyrgyz government had cancelled US access to the base.

It has been widely reported that the US was negotiating with Russia and other countries for an expanded supply route into Afghanistan as an alternative to the increasing violence faced by transport caravans coming in from Pakistan.

But the suggestion that Iran might also be under consideration is new.

The officials told the newspaper that the US would not consider sending American supplies via Iran. Rather such a route could be discussed in bilateral supply talks conducted on an ongoing basis between individual NATO members and Iran.

Pentagon and NATO planners have looked at paths across Iran from the port of Chabahar, on the Arabian Sea, to a new road built by India in western Afghanistan, the report said.

US President Obama has signalled interest in opening talks with Iran. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has proposed a conference on Afghanistan that would include Iran.

On the Kyrgyz issue, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell was quoted as saying by the New York Times late Wednesday that the Kyrgyz government had agreed to meet American negotiators in the coming days to discuss possible extension of access rights to the Manas base.