Pakistan hopes Iran, Afghan tension will be defused
Sat 05 Sep 98 - 14:50 GMT
ISLAMABAD, Sept 5 (AFP) - Pakistan hopes the current tension between Iran and Afghanistan will be defused as a result of the ongoing efforts to remove the causes of friction, Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz said Saturday.
He told reporters the Pakistan-mediated release of five Iranian prisoners by the Taliban Thursday marked a movement toward lessening the tension between the two sides.
There is also a proposal to send a joint team of Iranians and Afghans to the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif under the United Nations to look for missing Iranian diplomats, the minister said.
"We hope the tension will be defused," he said.
Aziz made the remarks when asked for comment on a Washington Post report that Iran was preparing an "imminent" attack on the Taliban regime.
Tension between Iran and the Afghan Taliban regime has been mounting in the past days, especially following reports that 10 Iranian diplomats were killed when Taliban forces overran Mazar-i-Sharif on August 8.
The Iranians are "close to panic-stricken," an unnamed senior US administration official told the Washington Post.
"US analysts believe Iran wants to deny the Taliban recognition as a legitimate government of Afghanistan and is intent on breaking its hold over some territory it now controls," the Post reported.
Iran has been the main supporter of the Northern Alliance, the Taliban's main armed opposition.
Islamabad has formerly recognised the government of the Taliban, whose movement originated in religious schools in Pakistan.
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