U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said Thursday that Iran's support for the Taliban in Afghanistan is "pretty limited".
Gates spoke Thursday during a stop at a U.S. military base en route to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
The defense secretary said Iran's level of influence on the Taliban is not a major problem for the United States at this point. But Gates added he does not want the problem to grow worse.
The verbal sparring between Gates and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also continued Thursday, the last day of the defense secretary's trip to Afghanistan and the Middle East.
Mr. Ahmadinejad said if America thinks it can dominate oil through military means, the region's young people will - in his words - "cut your hands off of the Persian Gulf oil."
Gates accused Iran of playing political games in Afghanistan, by professing support for the Afghan government while undermining U.S.-led efforts to improve the government and stabilize the country.
Later Thursday, Gates met with Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan in a bid to garner support for new sanctions against Iran for its nuclear activities.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.