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Russia disagrees with US on Iran characterization

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russia says it disagrees with the administration of US President Donald Trump’s characterization of Iran as a “terrorist state.”

Several officials in Trump’s inner circle are known for visceral acrimony toward Iran. Trump himself, who is a former businessman with no prior political career of his own, has also been striking a belligerent tone on Iran, particularly regarding a nuclear deal that Tehran negotiated with six other countries — including the US — back in 2015. Trump has said the deal benefited the other parties to the deal more than it did American businesses.

But in a first remark that closely resembled his aides’ rhetoric on the Islamic Republic, Trump told Fox News on Sunday that Iran was “the number one terrorist state.”

Reacting to that remark on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, “We disagree with this postulate,” Russia’s ITAR-TASS news agency reported.

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US Defense Secretary James Mattis had on Saturday called Iran “the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world.” While it was his first comment on Iran since taking over as the US’s defense secretary, the retired US Marines Corps general had made similar remarks on numerous occasions in the past.

Earlier, Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, had said the US was putting Iran “on notice” over a recent missile test.  Flynn, too, has a history of making crude comments on Iran, including in a book that he has co-authored. In it, he has claimed that the US faces war from a “coalition” of countries “that extends from North Korea and China to Russia, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela and Nicaragua.”

In 2012, following a militant attack on US government facilities in Libya, Flynn, who was then the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), claimed Iran had had a role in the attack and told his staff to start looking for evidence for the allegation. They never found any such evidence, and the attack was later found to have been carried out by an extremist Libyan militant group.

Flynn was later dismissed from his post as head of the DIA by former US president Barack Obama.

In December last year, Trump fired Flynn’s son, a member of the then-US president-elect’s transition team, for spreading fake news on Twitter.

Meanwhile, the US under Trump has introduced sanctions on the Islamic Republic over the missile test and what it said was Iran’s continued support for terrorism.

Iranian officials have rejected the US accusations and have said Iran is a main country on the battlefront against terrorism. Iran has been offering advisory military support to Iraq and Syria in the two Arab countries’ fight on terrorism. The Islamic Republic has been cooperating with Russia in assisting the Syrian government.

Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, pointed to that cooperation as well as partnership between Tehran and Moscow in other areas and said Russia was to develop its relations with Iran.

“You all know that Russia has good relations of partnership with Iran, and we cooperate with that country on a number of issues. We appreciate our relations in the trading and economic sphere and we hope for their further development,” the Russian official said.

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