Bush warns Iran on fueling violence in Iraq
Washington, Jan: US President George W Bush vowed today to respond firmly if Iran foments violence in Iraq and the White House urged Tehran to play a constructive role in the region.
Washington has accused Tehran of undermining efforts to bring stability in Iraq and of pursuing nuclear weapons. Two US aircraft carriers have been stationed in the Gulf as a warning to Iran.
''If Iran escalates its military action in Iraq to the detriment of our troops and, or, innocent Iraqi people, we will respond firmly,'' Bush told National Public Radio in an interview.
The Bush administration has said it wants to resolve the nuclear dispute with Iran diplomatically and repeatedly told Iran not to fuel violence in Iraq. Iran denies making nuclear weapons, saying it only wants to make electricity.
Bush has kept his options open and his latest remarks, along with tougher financial sanctions and actions against Iranian involvement in Iraq, have revived speculation about a possible US attack on Iran.
Hassan Kazemi Qomi, Iran's ambassador to Iraq, told The New York Times in an interview published today that Iran was taking steps to greatly expand military and economic ties with Iraq.
White House spokesman Tony Snow said in response: ''We hope Iran plays a constructive role in the region, rather than one that is not being constructive -- whether it be in pursuing nuclear weapons or supporting groups that have been committing acts of violence against either US troops, against people within Iraq or destabilizing democracies in Afghanistan and Lebanon.'' Bush said last week US forces would act to stop Iranians trying to launch attacks against Americans or Iraqis in Iraq.
Iran was prepared to offer Iraq training, equipment and advisers for ''the security fight,'' and help with reconstruction efforts, Qomi told The New York Times.
''We'll just have to see how things unfold,'' Snow said.
''At this point it (Iran) has not been constructive. We hope it does become more constructive,'' he said.