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Larijani: Gates's anti-Iran claim `a very big joke'

Tehran, April 23, IRNA - Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani on Monday dismissed as 'a very big joke' the claim of the US Defense Secretary Roberts Gates that Iran assists al-Qaeda, saying it is an escape forward.

Ali Larijani

"In my opinion, that's a very big joke. They themselves know this pretty well. They (Americans) are aware of our difference with al-Qaeda better than any one else," said Larijani in a joint press conference with former Lebanese interior minister Suleiman Franjieh on Monday.

Larijani said, "We have never supported such terrorist movements, rather we are opposing them. They are involved in some activities which we have always resisted."

He blamed the US and Israeli intelligence services for the Shiite -Sunni row in Iraq.

"In Iraq, they once fanned the Shiite-Sunni conflict. It was obvious that the US and Israeli (intelligence) services were behind this. Iran's diplomatic efforts and approaches pointed finger at them.

Under present circumstances, it has become clear to them that extremists either in Afghanistan or Iraq are those coming from and supported by the US allies," he added.

As for London's claim that Iran has a role in Basra unrest, Larijani said, "I think nobody would believe in these things because the only country -- which has perhaps been showing fully in practice that is ready to contribute into restoration of stability and security in Iraq and assisting the government of Nuri al-Maleki -- is the Islamic Republic of Iran and this is something that Americans, Britons and other countries know quite well," he said.

He said in Iraq there are some terrorist wings which have now become active and are especially dispatched to the country and supported by the US allies.

On Iran's participation in Iraq conference, due to be held in Sharm al-Sheikh, Egypt, Larijani said there are ambiguities on nature, purpose and intention of the meeting which need to be clarified.

"The system, purpose and goal of any institution to which a country is to join should be clarified. As for Sharm al-Sheikh, I should say these points have not been clear to us and they should be clarified so that we can make necessary decisions," he said.

Asked to comment on venue of Iraq conference, Larijani said, "I do not know the reason. I can neither judge on the issue. Wherever the meeting is held, the ambiguities should be removed so that Iran can take part in it."

On softening of Americans' tone towards Iran, Larijani said, "The way you ask shows that you think our problem with the US is an emotional one. Had it been so, the problem would have been solved very easily. But our problem with the US has a rational basis and the problems lie in US approach. Diplomacy is more in need of political action than rhetoric. We do not wish to decide through media. Already too, they had sent messages and we transferred our views to them. I think they are wise enough to understand that the problem should follow its diplomatic course and be handled formally."

... Payvand News - 4/24/07 ... --

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