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Iran Ready To Fund Hamas --> Larijani (right) with Hamas leader Khalid Mish'al in an undated file photo (Fars) 23 February 2006 -- Iran has said it plans to fund a Hamas-led Palestinian Authority if the West cuts off aid.

Ali Larijani, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, issued the pledge in Tehran on 22 February. His statement came after a meeting with Hamas representatives.

Iran has been a strong Hamas backer. It shares a nearly identical regional political strategy with the group that won last month's Palestinian elections. Both refuse to recognize Israel.

Hamas has refused Western demands to renounce violence, accept Israel's right to exist, and abide by past agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The United States and European Union consider Hamas a terrorist group. They have said they will halt their grants of hundreds of millions of dollars of aid to the Palestinian Authority after a Hamas government takes office unless it changes its attitude toward Israel and violence.