(AFP) – May 2, 2011
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran said on Monday the death of Osama bin Laden has removed "any excuse" for the United States and its allies to deploy forces in the Middle East under the pretext of fighting terrorism.
"US and their allies have no more excuse to deploy forces in the Middle East under pretext of fighting terrorism," foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast was quoted as saying on the website of Iran's English-language Press TV channel.
He said Iran hopes this development will help to "establish peace and security in the region," adding that it is Iran's policy to "strongly condemn terrorism all over the world."
Shiite Iran has always considered Al-Qaeda as a Sunni ultra-radical and anti-Shiite threat to its security.
Tehran even cooperated with Western forces when they invaded Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks to hunt bin Laden and the Taliban religious regime which had given him refuge.
But Iran quickly criticised the presence of the Western forces in Afghanistan, saying it prevented any negotiated settlement of the Afghan conflict.
Tehran regularly denounces the presence of US forces in the Gulf, calling it a source of tension in the region.
Several senior Al-Qaeda members had taken refuge in Iran during the international intervention in Afghanistan, and some were detained, according to media reports which Iranian authorities never confirmed.
But the British daily The Times reported in December that several of them were released by Tehran in order to rebuild the extremist Islamic organisation in Afghanistan, where it supports the Taliban in their fight against the Western military presence.
Some bin Laden family members continue to live under house arrest in Tehran, according to several members who managed to escape in 2010.
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