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Iran and Sudan accuse US of creating Mideast strife

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Feb 28, 2007 (KHARTOUM) — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir accused the United States on Wednesday of creating strife in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.

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Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir, left, greets his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Khartoum, Wed, Feb. 28, 2007 (AP)

Red carpets strewn with flowers were laid out for Ahmadinejad when he met Bashir at the start of a two-day visit to Sudan, which like Iran is under U.S. and U.N. pressure.

Washington has accused Iran of having a secret program to build nuclear weapons and has charged that Sudan has failed to protect civilians from violence in its western Darfur region. Both oil-producing countries reject the accusations.

U.S. President George W. Bush’s administration sees them as part of an Islamist alliance opposed to U.S. interests, along with the pro-Iranian Hezbollah guerrilla movement in Lebanon and the Palestinian group Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israel.

"We have followed with much concern the attempts to plant strife between parts of Iraqi and Lebanese society, and attempts to ignite civil war in Palestine," Bashir told reporters.

"As you know, a well-known outside power with an interest in weakening Islamic forces ... stands behind all these attempts. Our sole weapon in facing these attempts is unity."

Ahmadinejad said he agreed and added: "The age of the imposition of hegemony and authority of the corrupt powers is nearing its end."

He blamed the presence of U.S.-led foreign forces for sectarian and other violence in Iraq and said the forces were no longer needed because Iraq had a constitution, parliament and legitimate government.

"It has become clear ... that the presence of occupation forces on Iraqi territory was for no purpose other than to ... steal the wealth of this land and make use of a base to expand their hegemony over the countries of the region and of the whole Muslim world," said Ahmadinejad.

Iran says its nuclear program is only for electricity, and Bashir said Tehran had a right to develop its program for peaceful purposes.

Ahmadinejad described Sudan as a second home full of "dear, pious and revolutionary brothers".

(Reuters)

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