Iran says not behind US soldiers' deaths in Iraq

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TEHRAN, Oct 30 (Reuters) Iran's foreign minister today rejected US accusations the Islamic Republic was fomenting bloodshed in neighbouring Iraq, saying it was not behind the deaths of American soldiers there.

''The Islamic Republic of Iran has no role in the killing of American soldiers in Iraq and America's administration is lying to its people in this regard,'' Manouchehr Mottaki told a conference in Tehran, the official IRNA news agency reported.

''America's aim of such accusations is to cover up its frequent failures in the region which are the result of this country's wrong policies,'' he said.

The United States often accuses its old foe Iran of backing and training militias behind some of the bloodshed threatening to tear Iraq apart. Tehran denies the charge and blames the violence in its neighbour on the presence of US forces there.

The United States has suffered more than 3,830 military deaths in Iraq since the US-led invasion in 2003.

Washington and Tehran are also embroiled in a deepening standoff over Tehran's disputed nuclear programme, which Western powers suspect is aimed at developing bombs. Iran says it only wants to generate electricity.

Washington last week dubbed Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction and accused its Qods force of backing terrorists. It also imposed sanctions on more than 20 Iranian companies, major banks and individuals.

REUTERS RJ BD2307

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