AFP: Iran on Sunday accused the United States of selfishly "pursuing its own interests" by pushing for reforms in the Arab and Muslim world, saying the initiative was of no benefit to the Middle East. "America is only pursuing its own interests, and we believe plans imposed from the outside will not be of any benefit to the region," Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters. AFP

TEHRAN - Iran on Sunday accused the United States of selfishly "pursuing its own interests" by pushing for reforms in the Arab and Muslim world, saying the initiative was of no benefit to the Middle East.

"America is only pursuing its own interests, and we believe plans imposed from the outside will not be of any benefit to the region," Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell and top officials from Arab nations on Saturday attended a conference in Rabat on the US initiative, which calls for political and economic reforms in Arab and Muslim countries stretching from Mauritania to Pakistan.

"Iran saw no reason for taking part in these meetings," Asefi added.
The Arab nations rebuffed US calls for speedy democratic reforms, insisting that steps the United States deems essential to stem terrorism be tied to a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

Washington deems the reforms essential to easing the frustrations and prejudices that it argues breed acts of violence such as the attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001.

It launched its Greater Middle East initiative in March and then developed it further in June at the G8 summit grouping Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United States, and Russia.

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