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10 Mar, 2010 15:34

Afghanistan turns to Iran for help, despite American promises

With the US struggling to control the Taliban, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has turned to Iran for help as his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is paying a visit.

During the talks with his Iranian colleague, President Karzai called the Iranian nation a "real friend" and promised further peaceful relations between the countries. The two leaders also discussed joint business projects, such as building a road linking Iran and Tajikistan through Afghanistan’s territory.

The US has called the visit worrying and accused Iran of undermining US and NATO efforts there. According to Reuters news agency, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said earlier this week that Iran was playing a "double game" in Afghanistan by being friendly to the government while trying to undermine the United States. Gates also said on Wednesday he had passed those concerns on to Karzai.

Foad Izadee, professor of political studies at Tehran University, believes Iran's involvement is more welcome in Afghanistan than Washington's.

“The US has been talking about helping Afghanistan, but as President Karzai has repeatedly said, they unfortunately engage in other activities like bombings and killings of civilians. Iran is not doing this,” Professor Izadee explained. “For many years now, it [Iran] has helped [the] Afghan government and Afghan people in terms of infrastructure – roads, hospitals – and it hosts hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees. The US is under the hand, but they [view] Afghanistan as a place that they can use to control Central Asia and [the] Middle East and create problems for regional powers like Russia and China.”