Afghanistan says Iran blocking fuel trucks

Iran is preventing hundreds of fuel tankers from crossing into Afghanistan and supplying US-led NATO troops fighting the Taliban.

Last Updated: Dec 22, 2010, 21:42 PM IST

Kabul: Iran is preventing hundreds of
fuel tankers from crossing into Afghanistan and supplying
US-led NATO troops fighting the Taliban, senior officials in
Kabul said on Wednesday.

Around 1,600 trucks have been prevented from crossing
for three weeks and the situation threatens to push up fuel
prices, which have already skyrocketed in recent days, at the
start of winter.

Although Kabul says the tankers would be used to
supply ordinary Afghans, deputy commerce minister Mohammad
Sharif Sharifi told a news agency that Iranian officials were sceptical.

"I confirm that Iranian officials have been preventing
around 1,600 fuel tankers from crossing into Afghanistan for
20 days," he said.

"They (Iran) have not officially given us any reason
for this blockade but in a meeting that I had with the Iranian
commerce attache in Kabul, he said that the Iranian government
believes these tankers were going to supply foreign troops in
Afghanistan."

Sharifi added that unless the situation was resolved,
it could cause "serious problems including an increase in fuel
prices."

The blockades have occurred at a number of locations,
including the main Afghan-Iranian border crossing at Islam
Qalah in the western province of Herat.

Afghanistan`s foreign ministry says it is holding
talks with Iranian officials in a bid to convince them that
the fuel is not for military use.

"We have taken all necessary measures to help lift the
ban," said foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Zahir Faqiri.

"We have told Iranian officials through diplomatic
channels in Kabul and Tehran that it is the people of
Afghanistan who will suffer from this blockade."

Around 30 per cent of Afghanistan`s fuel is thought to
come through transport routes from Iran, with much of the rest
coming through the central Asian republics which border
Afghanistan.

PTI