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Iran: Tehran Challenges U.S. On Al-Qaeda Charges

Tehran, 6 February 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi has challenged the United States to provide evidence of fugitive Al-Qaeda members crossing the border from Afghanistan into Iran. Speaking at a news conference in Tehran yesterday, Kharrazi again denied American accusations that Iran had allowed the fugitives to cross into its territory.

But he acknowledged that the long, remote, and largely mountainous border was impossible to seal. Kharrazi said Washington should provide Iran with any information it had -- instead of launching propaganda attacks on Iran.

Kharrazi has also sent a long letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in which he dismisses U.S. allegations that Iran is trying to develop weapons of mass destruction. In the letter, Kharrazi also charges that President George W. Bush's State of the Union message -- which placed Iran in an "axis of evil" -- was meant to win domestic support for big increases in U.S. defense spending.