Iran says it will end Afghan fuel blockade

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Iran told the Afghan government on Tuesday that it will stop blocking thousands of tanker trucks trying to move fuel into Afghanistan, authorities announced.
An Afghan government statement said the Iranian ambassador to Afghanistan, Fada Hussain Maliki, told President Hamid Karzai that the fuel tankers still stuck at the border would be allowed to enter Afghanistan during the next four days.
The Iranians began barring fuel trucks from crossing the Iran-Afghanistan border in late December, leaving about 2,500 trucks stuck at three crossings. The move, which Afghan officials have criticized as being tantamount to an embargo, has led fuel prices to rise as much as 70 percent.
Tehran has said the ban was linked to its recent decision to slash domestic fuel subsidies in a bid to cut costs and boost an economy squeezed by international sanctions. Afghan officials said Iran also had expressed concern that fuel shipments were supplying NATO forces in Afghanistan.
“This fuel doesn’t belong to NATO, it belongs to the poor Afghan people,” said Farid Shirzai, head of the Afghan Commerce Ministry’s fuel department.
Iran supplies about 30 percent of the country’s refined fuel, Afghan officials say. The remainder of the blocked shipments come from Iraq and Turkmenistan, but must transit through Iran.
Between 1,400 and 1,500 of the original 2,500 stranded tankers are still waiting to cross into Afghanistan. Shirzai… >>>

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