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Iran regional superpower, Mottaki says

TEHRAN, June 10 (UPI) -- Iran is emerging as a regional superpower given the increased role Tehran plays in international affairs, notably in Afghanistan, the foreign minister said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki highlighted an interest expressed by Italy that Tehran be included at a G8 summit on Afghanistan and Pakistan scheduled for June 25-27 in Trieste, Italy, as an indication of his country's growing regional influence.

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The semiofficial Fars news agency reports that Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini stressed Iran's help is needed in the NATO-led effort to bring security to Afghanistan.

Iran has moved unilaterally to tackle its own regional issues stemming from destabilization in Afghanistan. The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime had praised Iran's efforts at tackling the cross-border opium trade in Afghanistan, and Tehran recently hosted a trilateral meeting with Afghan and Pakistani officials to discuss regional agreements on security and economic development.

Though Tehran played a role in the development of the current Afghan government along with Washington in 2001, the United States and its Western allies are reluctant to court Iran on concerns it would bolster Iran's credibility in the midst of ongoing disputes over a controversial nuclear program.

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