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Iranian President Criticizes US on Visit to Afghanistan

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami says the United States has adopted a belligerent foreign policy since the terrorist attacks last September on American soil. Mr. Khatami made his remarks during a visit to neighboring Afghanistan Tuesday.

President Khatami says his country is doing its part to crack down on the al-Qaida terrorist network, which Washington blames for last September's attacks on New York and the Pentagon.

Iran says it has recently sent 16 al-Qaida suspects back to Saudi Arabia. However, senior U.S. officials say Tehran continues to shelter some senior al-Qaida members.

The al-Qaida network, led by Osama bin Laden, was headquartered in Afghanistan until the collapse of the Taleban government last December during the American-led war on terrorism there.

Like the United States, Iran supported Afghanistan's Northern Alliance militiamen against the Taleban. However, Iran is not comfortable with the continued U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.

So it was with some irony that President Khatami rode to President Karzai's palace in Kabul under the protection of heavily armed U.S. Special Forces soldiers who have joined the Afghan leader's team of bodyguards.

At a news conference, President Khatami criticized the foreign policy of President Bush as being too bellicose. He accused the United States of adopting "an angry approach to foreign policy" following last year's terrorist attacks. He said Washington is wrong to think it can make countries submit to its will by force. He did not elaborate.

For his part, Afghan President Karzai had conciliatory comments toward both Iran and the United States. Mr. Karzai said Afghanistan is grateful to Washington and Tehran for their help in ousting the Taleban and al-Qaida. And he said Afghanistan would be proud to help Iran and the United States bridge their differences.

The leaders announced that Iran is offering 2,000 university scholarships to Afghan students. Also, they say a new highway will be built between the countries. Iran is planning to give $50 million in reconstruction aid to Afghanistan this year, the first installment of a $500 million aid package.