Ahmadinejad rejects US claims

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday rejected US and British claims that Iranian weapons are being supplied to Taliban insurgents fighting the Afghan government and international troops.

Ahmadinejad rejects US claims
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday rejected US and British claims that Iranian weapons are being supplied to Taliban insurgents fighting the Afghan government and international troops.

"I doubt seriously if there is any truth in it," Ahmadinejad said at a press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul on his first visit to the country since taking office.

"With all our force, we support the political process in Afghanistan," he said.

Both British and US officials have claimed that Iranian-made weapons were aiding the Taliban.

Karzai has also downplayed the claims, saying they have not been proven.

Afghanistan was close to Iran and also a friend and strategic partner of the United States, Karzai told reporters after meeting Ahmadinejad.

"If Afghanistan can bring them closer, that will be a great happiness for Afghanistan -- but it depends on both sides," Karzai said.

The United States led the invasion that drove the Taliban from power in late 2001 and is the biggest supplier of troops towards international efforts to defeat the Taliban insurgency.

The Iranian president insisted that his country, which shares a long border with Afghanistan, felt the "first impact" of any security troubles in Karzai's nation.

"For us, a secure and stable Afghanistan is the best," Ahmadinejad said.

Ahmadinejad was later due to meet key opposition figure Younus Qanooni, speaker of the lower house of parliament, as well as some Iranian nationals before heading to Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan.

His talks with Karzai were also likely to have focused on Tehran's expulsion of Afghans illegally residing in Iran.

Since April around 170,000 unregistered Afghans have been driven out, sparking considerable concern over Kabul's ability to cope with the influx.

An outcry in Afghanistan about the expulsions cost the refugees minister his job. Parliament, led by Qanooni, also voted for Foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta to be sacked. The vote was overturned by the Supreme Court.

After their meeting, the two presidents signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation.

Officials from both sides signed four accords, including one on Iranian help towards capacity building in the Afghan government and in building a road in the west of the country.

AFP
Last Mod: 15 Ağustos 2007, 01:40
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