BRUSSELS, Belgium — Afghanistan’s defense minister on Thursday dismissed claims by a top U.S. State Department official that there was “irrefutable evidence” that the Iranian government was providing arms to Taliban rebels.
“Actually, throughout we have had good relations with Iran and we believe that the security and stability of Afghanistan are also in the interests of Iran,” Abdul Rahim Wardak told The Associated Press.
On Wednesday, Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said in Paris that Tehran was directly supplying weapons to the Taliban . He told CNN there was “irrefutable evidence” that arms shipments were coming from Iran’s government.
The State Department later appeared to step back from Burns’ assertion, but stressed that the United States has proof that weapons from Iran were reaching Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.
Tehran has denied the accusations. Wardak, who is attending a NATO defense ministers’ meeting in Brussels, also played down suggestions that Iranian authorities were sending arms shipments to the Taliban.
“There has been evidence of weapons, but it is difficult to link it to Iran. (They) might be from al-Qaida, from the drug mafia or from other sources,” Wardak said.
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