Iran opposes long-term US presence in AfghanistanKabul (AFP) March 8, 2011 - Iran's interior minister spoke out against a long-term US military presence in Afghanistan Tuesday, as the American Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited his country's troops in the warring country. "(Iran) is definitely against the the deployment, presence of foreign forces and establishment of US permanent bases in Afghanistan," Mostafa Mohammad Najjar told a press conference in Kabul. "The permanent bases would further complicate the conditions in the region and in Afghanistan." The minister's Afghan counterpart, Besmullah Mohammadi, praised Iran as a neighbour who "has always helped in reconstruction and ensuring security in Afghanistan."
There have been calls from some Afghan and US politicians in recent months for permanent US bases to be established in Afghanistan after control of security is handed from international to Afghan forces by 2014. Last month, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said the US had been in secret talks with Afghanistan on the issue. But on Monday, Gates insisted that the US had "no interest" in permanent bases in Afghanistan. He added, though, that it was "open to the possibility of having some presence here in terms of training and assistance, perhaps making use of facilities made available to us by the Afghan government." There are around 140,000 international troops, around two-thirds of them from the , fighting the Taliban and associated insurgents in Afghanistan.