Taking aim at the U.S., Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday that it's the United States that is playing a "double game" in Afghanistan, fighting terrorists it once supported.
At a press conference in the Afghan capital, Ahmadinejad was asked to respond to U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who earlier in the weekof "playing a double game" by trying to have a good relationship with the Afghan government while undermining U.S. and NATO efforts by providing some support to the Taliban.
Tehran has said it supports the Afghan government and denies allegations that it helps the Taliban.
"I believe that they themselves," who are now fighting militants in Afghanistan, "are playing a double game," he said. "They themselves created terrorists and now they're saying that they are fighting terrorists."
Ahmadinejad appeared at a news conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, but it was the Iranian leader who did most of the talking.
He said terrorists are not best fought on the battlefield, but through the use of intelligence, which does not result in the death of troops or civilians. Ahmadinejad criticized foreign forces and how much money the U.S. and other nations were spending on troops - money that he said would have been better spent on irrigation and other development projects.
"Your country is located on the other side of the world so what are you doing here?" Ahmadinejad asked rhetorically of the U.S. Defense chief's presence in Afghanistan.
CBS News' Fazul Rahim who attended the news conference, says the Iranian leader countered American claims that Tehran was funding the Afghan militants by saying the U.S. was also pouring money into the war-torn country, "and taking it back," suggesting war profiteering motives but offering no evidence.
Karzai himself made a loosely veiled reference to Gates' warning that Tehran would face consequences if it continued its alleged support for militants in Afghanistan.
"We don't let others use Afghanistan against our neighbors," Karzai said, with his neighbor at his side.
Gates had an unusually provocative warning for Tehran on Monday, should the Islamic Republic carry its alleged efforts to help the Taliban too far.
"They also understand that our reaction, should they get too aggressive in this, is not one they would want to think about."
Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell later said Gates was referring only to actions the United States might take inside Afghanistan and not to a wider confrontation with Iran.
Karzai hosted Ahmadinejad at the presidential palace before he was scheduled to head to Islamabad for a two-day visit to Pakistan.
Both leaders said Afghanistan and Iran were "brother nations" that have the same national interests and same historical cultural links.
Karzai said Iran was helping and assisting Afghanistan with reconstruction projects, improving education and helping provide electricity. "We are very hopeful that our brother nation of Iran will work with us in bringing peace and security to Afghanistan so that both our countries will be secure," Karzai said.