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Monday, 14 January, 2002, 15:44 GMT
Iran pledges Afghan support
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami
Khatami is taking US warnings seriously
By BBC Eurasia analyst Sadeq Saba

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has reaffirmed his support for the interim administration in neighbouring Afghanistan.

In a telephone conversation with the Afghan interim leader, Hamed Karzai, Mr Khatami said Iran would support stability in Afghanistan.

The Iranian leader also spoke to British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the weekend, expressing similar views.

He strongly denied suggestions by the United States that Iran was hampering peace efforts in Afghanistan and allowing fugitive Taleban to cross into Iran.

President Bush's warning last week that Iran would face the consequences if it sought to destabilise the interim government in Kabul is clearly being taken seriously.

Supporting stability

President Khatami is anxious to reassure the international community that Iran has no desire to undermine the new interim government in Afghanistan.

Aghan interim leader Hamid Karzai
Karzai describes Iran as a 'friendly country'

In his telephone conversation with Mr Karzai, the Iranian president pledged support for Afghan stability, calling on rich nations to assist in the country's reconstruction.

The Iranian news agency reported that Mr Karzai also described Iran as a friendly country and thanked the Iranian government for its material and moral support.

On the phone to Mr Blair, Mr Khatami strongly denied what he called baseless rumours that Taleban fugitives had been allowed to cross into Iran.

Other Iranian officials have stressed in the past few days that the country's common border with Afghanistan was under strict control and Taleban fighters would be arrested if they entered Iran.

Mr Khatami's support for the Afghan interim government is important for establishing peace and stability in Afghanistan.

But Mr Khatami's hardline rivals in the Iranian leadership may not approve his unequivocal support for Mr Karzai.

They say that the United States has strategic plans for long-term military presence in the region and they also see the interim Afghan leader as too close to the West.

See also:

11 Jan 02 | Middle East
Iran hits back at Bush
10 Jan 02 | Americas
Bush warns Iran on terror
11 Jan 02 | South Asia
Iran defends role in Afghanistan
10 Jan 02 | South Asia
US lists al-Qaeda prisoners
09 Jan 02 | Middle East
Iran 'blocks UK ambassador'
20 Dec 01 | Middle East
Bush aide attacks Iran terror link
19 Nov 01 | South Asia
Iran regains role in Afghanistan
27 Dec 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Iran
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