Publish dateTuesday 19 May 2009 - 09:36
Story Code : 37683
Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan summit postponed

Mon May 18, 
TEHRAN  – Iran's foreign ministry said on Monday that a planned summit to be hosted by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with his Afghanistan and Pakistan counterparts has been postponed.

The summit, scheduled for Tuesday, was put off due to the busy programme of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi told reporters.

He did not give any new date for the summit, but said it will be fixed after "co-ordination" with the offices of the two other presidents.

The Tuesday meeting had been expected to discuss the rebuilding of war-shattered Afghanistan.

The three leaders met less than three months ago in the Iranian capital Tehran for a regional economic summit, along with leaders of other neighbouring states.

That summit pledged to help rebuild Afghanistan, and also the Gaza Strip after Israel's devastating offensive at the turn of the year.

Iran's efforts to help rebuild Afghanistan come amid recent overtures by US President Barack Obama's administration towards Tehran.

Iran had also attended a US-backed international conference on Afghanistan in The Hague on March 31.

Engaging Iran is part of Obama's strategy to secure the help of all Afghanistan's neighbours in reconstructing the Muslim country which is facing a resurgent Taliban insurgency.

Iran has not had diplomatic relations with the US for nearly three decades, and was included in former president George W. Bush's so-called "axis of evil" along with North Korea and Iraq.

Shiite Iran, which has close ethnic and religious ties with Afghanistan, has long suffered from the effects of opium production in its eastern neighbour, with easily available heroin fuelling a big rise in drug use at home.

Despite their rivalry, the US and Iran are both sworn enemies of the Taliban, a Sunni Muslim militia initially backed by Pakistan, that ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.

Afghanistan is the source of 90 percent of the world's heroin.
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