Iran Doubts ‘Intentions’ of US Military Strikes, Says it is ‘Worried’
Iran on Monday cast doubts on the "intentions" of the US military strikes against Afghanistan while admitting that it was worried about the activities "which are taking place close to us."
"We are of course worried about our borders. These are activities which are taking place close to us, and we have told the Americans that our territory and our air space should not be used, and they have accepted that," Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi told reporters at a press conference in Tehran.
"US attacks have begun, but there are still questions on what the aims of these attacks are," Kharazi said in the first press conference in Tehran since the United States and Britain launched their attacks on Afghanistan Sunday.
"Are measures which harm non-military people and civilians the [right] way to combat terrorism? There are great doubts concerning this issue", the Iranian minister said.
"Our suggestions and those of the Islamic world [on the crisis] have not been not accepted. From the beginning, we said that one cannot use military force in the fight against terrorism," Kharazi told reporters.
"One must know the root [causes] of terrorism and dry them out," he said, warning that Tehran was concerned that "such activities will not lead to an elimination of terrorism, but rather expand such activities."
"Still, the US intentions are not clear to us," he said.
"Iran cannot be indifferent towards the future of Afghanistan and is not very satisfied with the developing events. Afghanistan's future must be determined under clear conditions and with the people's vote," he said.
Kharazi also warned against "imposing foreign formulas onto Afghanistan," saying "this will not solve any problem."
The Iranian minister once again reiterated Tehran's call for a UN-led solution to the crisis in Afghanistan.
"Any developments in Afghanistan must take place under the auspices of the United Nations and we are completely prepared to cooperate with the UN for this," he said.
"Since the September 11 attacks, Iran has been very active on the diplomatic front in order to avoid the loss of human life and has suggested, through different channels, that one should not counter one catastrophe with another," Kharazi told reporters.
"The innocent and defenseless Afghan people have been suffering from war for years. They should not suffer more through new military actions," he said adding: "This is why, soon after the military strikes, our spokesman condemned the attacks" as "unacceptable."
Kharazi also called on the Islamic world to "carry out its role in defining terrorism and ways to combat it."
"Our hope was for the aims of the attacks to be clear and that people do not suffer. This attack, which we do not agree with, cannot have not harmed people because of its vastness," he added casting doubts on reports that just over 20 people had so far died on the strikes.
Shiite Iran is extremely hostile to Afghanistan's ruling extremist Sunni Taliban militia, which is sheltering Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the September 11 terror attacks in New York and Washington.
However, Iran has ruled out joining hands with Washington in strikes against a fellow Muslim country.
Instead, Tehran demanded the international campaign against terror be led by the United Nations, and pleaded its case that military strikes would only compound the problem of its more than two million Afghan refugees -- TEHRAN (AFP)
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