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Iran leader wants U.N. pressure over Afghan rebels

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks during a ceremony to mark the Fourth National Anniversary of Nuclear Technology, in Tehran April 9, 2010. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged the United Nations to condemn the support of foreign forces in Afghanistan for the leader of a Sunni Muslim rebel group, media reported on Monday.

In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Ahmadinejad also called for an investigation into the September 11 attacks on the United States which he said was “used as a pretext for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Predominantly Shi’ite Iran has linked Jundollah (God’s soldiers) to the Sunni Islamist al Qaeda network and accuses Pakistan, Britain and the United States of backing the rebel group to destabilize Afghanistan, a charge the countries deny.

“We expect your Excellency... to condemn NATO’s support for terrorism in the (Middle East) region and those who have supported this criminal,” the official IRNA news agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying in his letter, handed to Ban on Monday.

Jundollah, which accuses the Iranian government of discrimination against Sunnis, has been blamed for many deadly incidents over the last few years.

The Iranian president’s remarks came at a time of escalating tension in the Islamic Republic’s long-running dispute with the West over Tehran’s nuclear program, with the United States pushing for new U.N. sanctions against the major oil producer.

In February, Iran arrested Abdolmalek Rigi in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan and officials said he had been at a U.S. military base prior to being taken into custody.

The Pentagon denied Iran’s claims that Washington had links to Rigi and his Jundollah group.

Editing by Michael Roddy