Iran Is "Very Serious" Against Al-Qaeda: FM Spokesman

May 21, 2003 - 0:0
TEHRAN -- Iran on Tuesday once again rejected the recent U.S. remarks on the presence of Al-Qaeda operatives inside its territory, and refreshed vows to "seriously" confront the terror network.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid-Reza Assefi refuted the remarks by U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that Al-Qaeda leaders are in Iran, adding that Iran has no links to the "fundamentalist and violent" network.

"In case of confronting the Al-Qaeda, Iran will act according to its programs and within the UN framework, as it did in extraditing the operatives of the group to their countries of origin that in several cases included Western states," Assefi told reporters.

"Iran is "very serious" in confronting Al-Qaeda and the likes of the network," Assefi added. "Due to our long borders there may be some incursions to our country but as soon as our forces notice their presence they will be arrested and treated on the basis of international laws," he said

Receently the Iranian border guards have arrested an Al-Qaeda suspect and after his arrest it became clear that he was wanted by a Western country, he further said.

Rumsfeld on Thursday said he had information that showed high-ranking Al-Qaeda operatives were hiding in Iran, IRNA reported.

Assefi said the U.S. is trying to divert the American public opinion from its internal problems and its failure to fight terrorism by lodging allegations against other nations. Elsewhere in his remarks, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman stressed that the Islamic Republic is not following any plans to open dialogue with the U.S.

Assefi had earlier rejected U.S. claims that Tehran sheltered leaders of Al-Qaeda, and that the country was on the track to produce arms of mass destruction.

"Such statements are at odds with the political literature and unbecoming of those who boast of being political," Assefi said on Friday.

"The repetition of such baseless claims cannot portray them as valid and credible," Assefi added.

Assefi also rejected as baseless the recent allegations by the terrorist Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) that Tehran is developing chemical weapons, and refreshed commitments to UN treaties banning such weapons.

"The charges by the MKO who was at the service of the regime of Saddam Hussein are too worthless for us to be worried about," he told reporters.

He said the Islamic Republic, even at the time that it fell victim to the Baghdad use of chemical weapons in the 1980-88 Iraqi imposed war, never used such weapons against that country. "We, as have previously declared, are never after the production of these weapons."

Elsewhere in his remarks, Assefi criticized the reported meeting between the Qatari and Israeli foreign ministers, stressing that such moves are not to the benefit of the Muslims.

"According to the previous decisions by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), any contact with the Zionist regime of Israel is banned," he said. "Therefore, the meeting of the Qatari foreign minister with his Zionist counterpart has been inappropriate."