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Iran backs Russia over Georgia

Atul Aneja

Urges regional countries to unite against foreign interference


DUBAI: Iran has blamed Georgia for its confrontation with Russia and in a reference to Israel and the U.S., urged regional countries to unite against foreign interference.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Saturday Georgia caused the crisis because it miscalculated the reaction to its use of military power in South Ossetia. Speaking earlier on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the conflict would not have taken place had Georgia “not allowed countries from outside the region to interfere in their internal affairs.” Analysts say that wary of U.S. troop presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran has reasons to welcome the reduction of American influence in its northern neighbourhood.

Mr. Ahmadinejad further pointed to an Israeli hand in the Caucuses war. Iran’s Fars New Agency, quoting Israeli media reports, said Georgia had commissioned nearly 1,000 military advisers from Israeli security firms to train its armed forces. On Thursday, Mr. Ahmadinejad met Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev on the sidelines of the summit. Apart from the developments in Georgia, the leaders discussed the situation arising out of the Iranian nuclear programme. Now, Russia has decided to send a delegation to discuss the completion of the Russian-aided Bushehr atomic power station. The director of the Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency, Sergei Kireinko, is expected to head the visiting delegation on Sunday. Russia’s Ambassador to Iran had said after all tests are concluded by the end of this year, the plant would be operational in early 2009.

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