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Iranian official: End drug trade to stop terror

TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- Iran's foreign minister said Sunday that the United States should concentrate on ending the drug trade if it hopes to stop terrorist activity in Afghanistan.

Kamal Kharrazi slammed U.S. policy in Afghanistan and said the Bush administration's accusations that his country was aiding al Qaeda were false and proved Washington's insincerity when it said it wanted improved relations with Iran.

The United States "is helping terrorists and bandits to work against the Islamic Republic of Iran," Kharrazi said.

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Illegal drugs, he said, provide much of the financial support for terrorist activities.

U.S. officials said last week they have evidence that Middle East terrorist organizations have benefited financially from an illegal drug operation in the United States. (Full story)

Kharrazi said that the Bush administration had to make the first move to improve relations between Iran and the United States.

He said that Iran had opposed Saddam Hussein's regime long before the United States launched its most recent call to oust the Iraqi president. He said Iran has discharged its duties to help rebuild Afghanistan and expelled al Qaeda members to their countries of origin.

Kharrazi also rejected President Bush's branding of Iran as part of an "axis of evil," along with Iraq and North Korea.

The reform-minded government of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami occupies a precarious position between the Iranian people -- who have twice elected him -- and the fundamentalist Islamic views of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who holds his position for life as head of the Islamic revolution that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini led in 1979.




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