Iran: No reason for troops now

The United States has no excuse to keep troops in the Middle East after killing al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, a senior Iranian official said today.

Foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said the US can no longer keep troops to the region under the pretext of fighting terrorism now that Osama bin Laden is dead. The al-Qaida leader was killed in a raid by elite US forces in Pakistan.

“Excuse for alien countries to deploy troops in this region under the pretext of fighting terrorism has been eliminated,” he said, according to the state news agency.

“This development clearly shows that there is no need for a major military deployment to counter one individual,” he said. “We hope this development will end war, conflict, unrest and the death of innocent people, and help to establish peace and tranquility in the region.”

Iran says it co-operated with the US in fighting terrorism but instead of being rewarded, former president George W Bush placed Iran in his “axis of evil”.

It claims it has cracked down on al-Qaida operatives, especially along its border with Afghanistan.

Iran opposes US policy in the region, especially the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, on Iran’s eastern and western borders.

Iran is a Shiite Muslim-dominated state, while bin Laden’s al-Qaida group preaches a hard-line interpretation of the Sunni sect of the Islamic faith. Iran has always considered al-Qaida a threat to its security.

Iran confirmed at one point that it had 500 al Qaida operatives, mostly Saudis, in its custody and they were handed over to their home countries.

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