Iran TerrorismIran 'seeking conflict by proxy in Afghanistan': Britain

Iran ‘seeking conflict by proxy in Afghanistan’: Britain

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AFP: British Defence Secretary Des Browne said Tuesday there were signs that Iran was helping the Taliban fight coalition forces in Afghanistan. LONDON, May 8, 2007 (AFP) – British Defence Secretary Des Browne said Tuesday there were signs that Iran was helping the Taliban fight coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Indications were that it was seeking to attack international troops “by proxy,” he told the defence committee of parliament’s lower House of Commons, which scrutinises Ministry of Defence administration and policy.

“Demonstrably they have sought confrontation by proxy with us and the United States and other NATO members elsewhere in the region and there is some indication that they are doing the same in Afghanistan,” he said.

Last month British Prime Minister Tony Blair accused elements in Tehran of “backing, financing, arming, supporting terrorism in Iraq.”

Browne said that Iran was otherwise playing a positive role in Afghanistan, sealing its border and cutting off the flow of illegal drugs and providing investment.

He said that as with other regional powers, such as India and Pakistan, it was in Iran’s interest to see a strong, stable Afghanistan.

“This is a complex environment,” Browne said.

“Regionally, an Afghanistan which is not a failed state and has a reduced drugs economy is in the strategic interest of all these countries.

“Iran do make a very positive contribution on the border in relation to drugs. They make significant investment inside Afghanistan as well.”

Browne praised Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf for his efforts in tackling support for Taliban insurgents emanating from his country.

“I believe that President Musharraf is committed to taking on this problem and in recent months they have stepped up their action against the Taliban to a level that we haven’t previously seen,” he said.

He warned, however, that there “is no doubt that historically there were relations between elements of the Pakistan government structure and the Taliban, and it is highly improbable that those have gone away.”

Browne said Britain was encouraging Pakistan to clamp down on the madrassas — Islamic religious schools blamed for radicalising youths.

“It is a strategic issue for us because it is a strategic issue in relation to the security of the streets of this city (London), never mind Afghanistan,” he said.

Britain has pledged an extra 1,400 troops for Afghanistan, who are due to arrive within weeks, taking the country’s contingent in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to 7,700.

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