Friday, December 24, 2004

"Kharrazi: Iran doesn’t take Bush’s threats seriously
12/24/2004 5:00:00 PM GMT

Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said that Tehran doesn’t take the U.S. threats seriously.

Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told reporters in Lebanon on Friday that Tehran doesn’t take the U.S. threats seriously.

Kharrazi also challenged U.S. and Iraqi officials to prove their allegations that his country is interfering in Iraq’s internal affairs.

"America's threats against Iran are not new and nobody takes them seriously," Kharrazi told reporters during his visit to the Lebanese capital, Beirut.

He also said that "Iran will keep striving for its goals."

“Ridiculous”

The Foreign Minister also described the accusations that Tehran is meddling in Iraq’s internal affairs as “ridiculous”.

"America attacked Iraq and interfered in its affairs to seize the country while there are no Iranian soldiers in Iraq at all," he said.

Kharrzi also praised the upcoming national elections in Iraq, planned for January 30, and warned against internal divisions in Iraq.

"We want all sects to participate in the elections as it's high time for the Iraqi people to prove that they are mature," he said.

Meanwhile, Lebanese Foreign Minister Mahmoud Hammoud said that Lebanon, Syria and Iran were facing international pressure but added that they would stick to their position and would seek cooperation and dialogue with other friendly nations.

The Iranian Foreign Minister is expected to discuss current events in Iraq and in the Palestinian territories with the Lebanese leadership during his two-day visit. He traveled to Beirut after he left Syria, where he held similar talks with Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.

No evidence

On Thursday, Kharrazi told journalists in Syria, which faces similar accusations from the U.S. and Iraq, that these charges were meant to “evade reality instead of discussing the crisis and trying to find solutions for it”.

"Those who release accusations should give evidence," Kharrzi said.

Earlier this month, Iraqi Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan alleged that Iranian and Syrian intelligence agents, along with former officials from Saddam’s security forces, were aiding Al Qaeda-linked groups in Iraq.

The U.S. President George W. Bush has also warned Iran and Syria that "meddling in the internal affairs of Iraq is not in their interest."

Iraqi interim Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, has distanced himself from the accusations and said that Shaalan’s remarks were not government policy.

Syrian officials have also rejected Shaalan's allegations as "baseless."

Kharrazi denies Jordan’s allegations

Kharrazi also dismissed Jordanian allegations that Iran plans to build a "Shiite crescent" including Syria, Lebanon and Iraq; nations with large Shiite populations, and said that these accusations "should not be taken seriously."

Earlier this month, Jordan’s King Abdullah II claimed in an interview with The Washington Post that Iran is trying to influence the outcomes of the upcoming elections in Iraq for its own political benefits."

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