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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 December 2006, 22:37 GMT
Iran calls in UK envoy over Blair
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair. File photo
Mr Blair said moderate countries must challenge Iran's influence
Iran's foreign ministry has summoned the British ambassador in Tehran to strongly criticise recent comments made by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Geoffrey Adams was told by a senior Iranian official that Mr Blair's claims that Iran posed a threat to the Middle East were "baseless".

The official was also quoted as saying that Mr Blair was trying "to cover up his failure" in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr Blair made the comments during a tour of the Middle East a week ago.

"Tony Blair has brought up baseless charges against Iran to cover up his failure in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East, but to no avail," Ebrahim Rahimpour told Mr Adams, according to Iran's official Irna news agency.

Mr Rahimpour - the Iranian foreign ministry's director general for Western European affairs - also criticised London for co-sponsoring a UN Security Council resolution that on Saturday imposed sanctions against Iran over its failure to halt uranium enrichment.

"The resolution will not have any impact on the national resolve to produce nuclear energy in line with [the] Non-Proliferation Treaty," the Iranian official said.

A British embassy spokeswoman in Tehran confirmed that the ambassador had been summoned, Reuters news agency reported.

'Strategic threat'

Mr Blair made his comments on Iran in a speech to British and United Arab Emirates businessmen in Dubai on 20 December.

He said moderate Muslim states must form an "alliance of moderation" to counter Iran and challenge its influence.

"We must recognise the strategic threat the government of Iran poses - not the people, possibly not all of its ruling elements, but those presently in charge of its policy.

"They seek to pin us back in Lebanon, in Iraq and in Palestine. Our response should be to expose what they are doing, build the alliances to prevent it and pin them back across the whole of the region."

However, Mr Blair said a new partnership was possible with Iran and also Syria, if they were prepared to play a constructive role in the Middle East.

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