Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in Afghanistan, where he met with President Hamid Karzai and again sharply criticized the U.S. mission to stabilize the country.
In a visit to Kabul that briefly overlapped with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the Iranian president repeated his call for American troops to leave Afghanistan, saying they will not bring peace.
Earlier this week, Secretary Gates accused Iran of playing a "double game" in Afghanistan by professing support for the Afghan government while undermining U.S.-led efforts to improve the government and stabilize the country.
Secretary Gates said Wednesday that Washington wants Afghanistan to have good relations with its neighbors, but those countries should be "up front" (forthright) when dealing with the Afghan government.
Mr. Ahmadinejad responded Wednesday by accusing Washington of playing its own "double game" by creating terrorism in Afghanistan and then declaring a need to fight it.
Mr. Karzai on Wednesday thanked Iran for assisting his country over the years and called the Islamic state a "real friend." He also said Afghanistan does not want its territory to be used to harm any of its neighbors.
An Afghan presidential spokesman said Mr. Karzai and Mr. Ahmadinejad planned to discuss joint projects such as building a railway linking Iran and Tajikistan through Afghanistan.
Mr. Karzai travels to Islamabad Wednesday for two days of talks with Pakistani leaders that are expected to focus on efforts to counter the Taliban and allied militant networks in the region.
Some information for this report provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.