Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Bloomberg.com: Top Worldwide

Bloomberg.com: Top Worldwide: "Iran Denies Links to Sept. 11 Attacks, Criticizes Bush Probe
July 21 (Bloomberg) -- Iran's government denied it had any links to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S. and criticized President George W. Bush for saying his administration is looking into whether Iran played a role.

Any direct or indirect allegations against Iran over the attacks are fictitious and imaginary, the official Islamic Republic News Agency cited Hamid Reza Asefi, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, as saying yesterday in Tehran.

Bush said on Monday the U.S. was looking into whether Iran had any direct role in the attacks. Newsweek magazine reported that a U.S. commission found evidence officials in Iran helped some al-Qaeda terrorists enter the U.S. from Afghanistan. They included eight men who took part in the hijacking of airliners that were crashed into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, the magazine said.

``In dealing with al-Qaeda elements, absolutely, we consider our national interest,'' IRNA cited Asefi as saying. ``It is not surprising that a few individuals may have crossed Iranian porous borders illegally. The ridiculous thing is that the U.S. is making such an allegation whereas is had trained the pilots and saboteurs involved in the September attacks.''

The U.S. allegations against Iran over involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks is demagogy, Asefi said, according to IRNA. The U.S. administration has embarked on a propaganda stunt as part of its campaign for November's presidential election, he said.

Newsweek's report said the commission will say there is no evidence the Iranian government had advance knowledge of the Sept. 11 plot. The panel's findings will add to the collection of intelligence suggesting Iran had more ties to al-Qaeda than did Iraq, the magazine said.

Connection

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Acting Director John McLaughlin said there wasn't a direct connection between Iran and the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush said in his comments. ``We will continue to look and see if the Iranians were involved,'' the president said.

Bush said if Iran wants improved relations with the U.S. it must take several steps, including putting an end to harboring al- Qaeda leaders, dismantling its nuclear weapons program and halting funds to ``terrorist organizations, such as Hezbollah, that create great dangers in parts of the world.''

The U.S. should know that the period of carrot and stick diplomacy has ended and Iran only accepts relations on equity, mutual respect and in line with national interest, IRNA cited Asefi as saying."

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