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Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran President, Denies Terror Accusations

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Terror Accusation

10/17/11 05:53 PM ET   AP

TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday denied allegations that Iranian agents were involved in a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington, claiming the U.S. pointed its finger at Tehran to divert attention from its economic problems.

Ahmadinejad also said the United States was accusing Iran of involvement in a "terror plot" to strengthen international sanctions against the Islamic Republic. He said Iran will not investigate the allegations.

Earlier Monday, Iran's foreign minister offered to look into the alleged conspiracy against the Saudi envoy, if the U.S. provides enough information.

The statement by Ali Akbar Salehi was the first indication that Iran might cooperate with the investigation, though other officials maintained a steady stream of ridicule and rejection of the charges.

"What would Iranian people gain from going inside the U.S. and killing an ambassador of a friendly country?" Ahmadinejad said in an interview with Al-Jazeera satellite TV channel on Monday. "Terror is only deployed by uncivilized nations," he added.

Two men, including a member of the Iranian special foreign actions unit known as the Quds Force, have been charged in New York federal court with conspiring to kill the Saudi diplomat, Adel al-Jubeir.

The alleged plot raised tensions between Mideast's Sunni power, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, the Shiite powerhouse.

In Switzerland, Iran's parliament speaker said American officials are playing a child's game and have insulted his nation with the accusations.

"The issue and the plot is so naive that it doesn't need any mediation at all," said the speaker, Ali Larijani.

Manssor Arbabsiar, a 56-year-old U.S. citizen who also holds an Iranian passport, was charged in a New York federal court along with Gholam Shakuri, whom U.S. authorities said was a Quds Force member, with conspiring to kill the Saudi diplomat, Adel Al-Jubeir.

On Sunday, Iran's supreme leader warned the United States that any measures taken against Tehran over the alleged plot would elicit a "resolute" response.

"If U.S. officials have some delusions, (they must) know that any unsuitable act, whether political or security, will meet a resolute response from the Iranian nation," state TV quoted Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as saying.

Iran also demanded that a diplomat be allowed to visit one of the men in prison.

President Barack Obama pledged Tehran would be held accountable for "a pattern of reckless behavior by the Iranian government."

U.S. officials have said no one was in immediate danger during the alleged assassination plot.

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Filed by Eline Gordts  |