Iran General NewsBush challenges Karzai on Iran

Bush challenges Karzai on Iran

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AFP: US President George W. Bush challenged Monday his ally Afghanistan President Hamid Karzi’s contention that Iran played a positive role in his country, maintaining that Tehran was “not a force for good.” CAMP DAVID, Maryland, Aug 6, 2007 (AFP) – US President George W. Bush challenged Monday his ally Afghanistan President Hamid Karzi’s contention that Iran played a positive role in his country, maintaining that Tehran was “not a force for good.”

Karzai had raised eyebrows in an interview broadcast Sunday, describing US nemesis Iran as more friend than foe, and appeared to turn back US allegations that Iranian arms were helping to erode the security situation in Afghanistan.

Bush, asked about Karzai’s statement during a joint press conference after their talks at his Camp David retreat, said the Afghan leader “knows best about what’s taking place in his country.

“And, of course, I’m willing to listen.

“But I would be very cautious about whether or not the Iranian influence there in Afghanistan is a positive force. And, therefore, it’s going to be up to them to prove to us and prove to the government that they are,” Bush pointed out.

The US leader said that the United States would “continue to work” with the international community to isolate Iran “because they’re not a force for good, as far as we can see.

“They are a destabilizing influence, wherever they are now.”

Bush said that from his perspective, the burden of proof was on the Iranian government to show us that they were a “positive force.”

“It’s up to Iran to prove to the world that they’re a stabilizing force as opposed to destabilizing force,” he said.

Bush said Tehran “has proclaimed its desire to build a nuclear weapon,” was “in defiance of international accord,” and “seems to be willing to thumb its nose at the international community.”

The Iranian government also denied its people “a rightful place in the world and denies its people the ability to realize their full potential,” he charged.

Iran has denied that it was trying to develop a nuclear weapon, saying it was pursuing atomic activities solely for civilian nuclear purposes.

In apparent reference to ongoing efforts to step up UN sanctions against Iran over its sensitive nuclear program, Bush said that the international community was working to get Tehran to give up its “nuclear weapons ambitions.”

Karzai did not elaborate on his previous statement on Iran at the press conference Monday.

In an interview broadcast Sunday on CNN, Karzai appeared to turn back US claims that Iranian arms were helping to erode the security situation in Afghanistan. “So far, Iran has been a helper and a solution,” he said.

“Iran has been a supporter of Afghanistan, in the peace process that we have and the fight against terror, and the fight against narcotics in Afghanistan,” Karzai said in the interview conducted Saturday.

He went on to say that Afghanistan and Iran had “very, very good, very, very close relations. … We will continue to have good relations with Iran. We will continue to resolve issues, if there are any, to arise.”

His remarks differed markedly from the US stance, which sees Iran as a major menace that bankrolls terrorists, supplies arms to insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq, and seeks to develop nuclear weapons.

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