U.S. supports "terrorists", Iranian speaker says
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - The United States is putting pressure on Iran by supporting anti-Iranian militants operating from the Pakistani border region, the speaker of Iran's parliament, Gholamali Haddadadel, said on Thursday.
But Haddadadel, speaking to reporters after talks with Pakistani leaders, said Pakistan was not involved in helping the militants.
"There is no doubt in our minds that the United States spares no effort to put pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran," Haddadadel said, speaking through an interpreter.
"The best indication of United States' support to a particular terrorist group is that one of the leaders of this terrorist group was given the opportunity to speak on VoA after committing the crime," he said, referring to a Voice of America radio broadcast after an unspecified attack.
The U.S. channel ABC News reported on Tuesday the United States had been secretly advising and encouraging a Pakistani militant group that had carried out a series of guerrilla raids inside Iran.
ABC, citing U.S. and Pakistani intelligence sources, said the raids had resulted in the deaths or capture of Iranian soldiers and officials.
The group, called Jundullah and made up of members of the Baluchi ethnic group, who live in both Pakistan and Iran, operated from Pakistan's Baluchistan province on the border with Iran, ABC said.
The group took responsibility for an attack in February that killed at least 11 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard on a bus in the Iranian city of Zehedan, ABC said.
"ABSURD AND SINISTER"
ABC cited Pakistani government sources as saying the secret campaign against Iran was on the agenda when U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney met Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in February.
The Pakistani Foreign Ministry dismissed the report as "tendentious". It said the suggestion Pakistan was involved in a secret war against Iran was "an absurd and sinister insinuation".
Haddadadel said Iran had to step up cooperation with Pakistan on the border.
"Some of the militants, the rebel forces are active in our border areas and we should work with Pakistan in order to increase security cooperation," he said.
"There is no news, no evidence, and we don't have any reason to believe that the military establishment in Pakistan is also supporting such militants groups," he said.
Asked if he thought the United States would attack Iran over its nuclear program, he said: "I think it is highly unlikely. We do not see any reason for military action against Iran and we do not do anything to encourage military action."
He also said he hoped work on a gas pipeline, from Iran, through Pakistan to energy-hungry India, would begin in July. The United States opposes the pipeline.
"The pipeline has political messages that there is security in the region and the three countries - Iran, Pakistan and India - decide on their own without foreign, external influence."