TEHRAN (Reuters) - The presence of U.S. troops in Afghanistan is encouraging “radicalism” there and will not lead to peace and stability, the official IRNA news agency quoted a senior Iranian official as saying in The Hague on Monday.
Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Mehdi Akhoundzadeh, who will attend a U.N. conference on Afghanistan on Tuesday proposed by Tehran’s old foe the United States, said Iran supported the creation of peace and security in Afghanistan, Iran’s neighbor.
“The presence of foreign troops cannot bring peace and stability for Afghanistan,” said Akhoundzadeh. “It encourages radicalism (in Afghanistan),” he said, adding that a regional solution was needed.
“This policy that others (the West) decide for the Afghan nation and for the Afghan officials does not work out any more,” he said.
Tehran has yet to announce whether Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki will attend the conference on Tuesday, or whether Akhoundzadeh will lead the Iranian delegation.
Iran says the United States is failing in Afghanistan but that Tehran is ready to help its eastern neighbor. It has often called for U.S. forces to leave the region, saying they are making the situation there worse.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and delegates from nearly 90 countries will take part in the conference on the future of Afghanistan.
On Friday U.S. President Barack Obama announced the results of a review of Afghan policy, including the dispatch of 4,000 more U.S. troops to the country to help those battling Taliban insurgents and supporting the Kabul government. Last month he ordered an increase in the U.S. force there of 17,000 troops.
Obama has offered a “new beginning” of diplomatic engagement with the Islamic Republic after years of hostility under the Bush administration and its predecessors.
Shi’ite Muslim Iran and the United States share an interest in ensuring a stable Afghanistan and oppose the growing insurgency by the Taliban, a Sunni Islamist movement which is also spreading its influence in neighboring Pakistan.
Iran and the United States have had no diplomatic ties for three decades and are at odds over Tehran’s nuclear program.
The United States also accuses Iran of sponsoring terrorism in the Middle East and of backing and arming Shi’ite militias in Iraq, charges Iran has denied. But they share an interest in Iraq’s stability and territorial integrity.
Writing by Parisa Hafezi, editing by Tim Pearce