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Updated: February 16, 2010 21:35 IST

Iran-U.S. war of words intensifies

Atul Aneja
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Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, speaks with the media during a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu, unseen, in Tehran, on Tuesday.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, speaks with the media during a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu, unseen, in Tehran, on Tuesday.

Iran has hit back against U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s warning that the Islamic republic is becoming a military dictatorship.

The war of words between Iran and the United States has escalated with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki accusing Washington of deceitful behaviour in its dealings in the region.

Responding to remarks on Monday by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Iran was sliding into a military dictatorship, Mr. Mottaki said the U.S. was practising “modern deceit”.

“We are regretful that the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tries to conceal facts about the stance of the U.S. administration through fake words,” said Mr. Mottaki in Tehran during a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu.

Mr. Mottaki said the Americans had adopted “unsuccessful strategies” in Afghanistan, Lebanon and Gaza. He added that the U.S. was spending vast sums on “soft power” to undermine the political independence of countries as well as impeding their progress in the fields of science and technology. Unlike the Americans who had killed large number of Iraqi and Afghan civilians, Iran had opened its doors to millions of refugees from these two countries, said Mr. Mottaki.

During a visit to Qatar, Ms. Clinton said: “We see that the government of Iran, the Supreme Leader, the President, the Parliament, is being supplanted, and that Iran is moving towards a military dictatorship. Now, that is our view.”

Analysts point out that Iran and the U.S. are battling for influence in the oil-rich Gulf countries.

As Ms. Clinton visited Qatar, Iranian warships on a friendly visit to the gas-rich nation had docked at Doha harbour. The presence of the two ships, named Bandar Abbas and Naqdi, signify improving defence ties between Tehran and Doha, said Iranian officials. Iran’s Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi is expected to follow-up with a visit to Qatar after the ships depart.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia also became an arena where the U.S. sought to impose fresh pressure on Iran. Focusing on China, which greatly depends on Iran to meet its energy demand, Ms. Clinton sought to persuade Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer, to expand its energy partnership with Beijing. Observers say there is a view in Washington that China’s energy dependence on Iran is behind Beijing’s reluctance to impose fresh sanctions against Tehran. However, Saudi Arabia showed its reluctance to follow this line. “They [the Chinese] need no suggestion from Saudi Arabia to do what they ought to do according to their responsibility,” said Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal at a press conference. He also questioned whether a new round of sanctions against Iran would make a difference. “Sanctions are a long-term solution,” he said. “They may work, we can’t judge, but we see the issue in the shorter term, maybe because we are closer to the threat. We need immediate resolution rather than gradual resolution.”

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