KABUL (AP) – Taking aim at the U.S., Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday that it’s the United States that is playing a “double game” in Afghanistan, fighting terrorists it once supported.
At a press conference in the Afghan capital, Ahmadinejad was asked to respond to U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who earlier in the week accused Tehran of “playing a double game” by trying to have a good relationship with the Afghan government while undermining U.S. and NATO efforts by providing some support to the Taliban.
Tehran has said it supports the Afghan government and denies allegations that it helps the Taliban.
“I believe that they themselves,” who are now fighting militants in Afghanistan, “are playing a double game,” he said. “They themselves created terrorists and now they’re saying that they are fighting terrorists.”
Ahmadinejad appeared at a news conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, but it was the Iranian leader who did most of the talking. He said terrorists are not best fought on the battlefield, but through the use of intelligence, which does not result in the death of troops or civilians. Ahmadinejad criticized foreign forces and how much money the U.S. and other nations were spending on troops money that he said would have been better spent on irrigation and other development projects.
“Your country is located on the other side of the world so what are you doing here?” he asked. Karzai hosted Ahmadinejad at the presidential palace before he was scheduled to head to Islamabad for a two-day visit to Pakistan.
Both leaders said Afghanistan and Iran were “brother nations” that have the same national interests and same historical cultural links.
Karzai said Iran was helping and assisting Afghanistan with reconstruction projects, improving education and helping provide electricity. “We are very hopeful that our brother nation of Iran will work with us in bringing peace and security to Afghanistan so that both our countries will be secure,” Karzai said.