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Khatami : Iran Will Not Interfere In Afghan Affairs - 2002-08-13


Iranian President Mohammad Khatami says Tehran will not interfere in the internal affairs of Afghanistan, and will never allow fleeing Taleban or al-Qaida terrorists to take shelter in Iran.

Mr. Khatami made the comments today (Tuesday) at a joint news conference in Kabul with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The Iranian leader also promised to help re-build Afghanistan. Last week, the Iranian parliament approved 500-million dollars in re-construction aid for its war-shattered neighbor.

Referring to fugitive al-Qaida fighters, Mr. Khatami said Iran has arrested terrorists found within its borders and sent them back to their countries. Iran recently handed over 16 al-Qaida suspects to Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Khatami also said Washington has created a "war-like" atmosphere around the world since the September 11th terrorist attacks in the United States.

Without mentioning U-S threats of possible military action against Iraq, Mr. Khatami said "no country should use the fight against terrorism to force its views on other countries." He said those with power have a greater responsibility to bring peace to the world.

Afghan President Karzai, whose government depends heavily on the United States for its survival, said Afghanistan is thankful to America for its help in fighting terrorism and grateful to Iran for accepting Afghan refugees.

The talks in Kabul marked the first time an Iranian head of state has visited Afghanistan in four decades. Iran's official news agency says the discussions focused on Iranian help for Afghanistan and cooperation in fighting the narcotics trade.

U-S special forces joined Afghan guards in providing security for the visiting Iranian leader.

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