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Iran's foreign ministry on Friday denied allegations that Teheran has provided military support to Hizbullah in its fight against Israel, a day after US President George W. Bush sharply criticized Iran's role in the bloody fighting.
"Our support has been spiritual. If we had military support, we would announce it. We are working very open, and we don't have any hidden business," ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told a talk show on state-run television.
Bush said Thursday that Iran is connected to Hizbullah, and now was the "time for the world to confront this danger."
Bush was responding to statements from top Israeli officials that the fighting could continue for several weeks. The Israeli offensive, which began after Hizbullah crossed the border, captured two Israeli soldiers and killed eight others, continued into its 17th day Friday.
John Bolton, US ambassador to the United Nations, also has alleged that Iranians are Hizbullah's "paymasters, and they're calling the tune." He estimated that Iran contributes US$100 million annually to the Shi'ite Islamic terror organization, which has supplanted Lebanon's central government as the effective political and military force in the southern region bordering Israel.
Iran has repeatedly denied claims that it gives military and financial support to Hizbullah. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday that Washington, Israel's closest ally, wants to "recarve the map" of the region with Israel's help.
"They don't have any right to tell us why Iran supports Hizbullah at all. The question is why do they support Israel?" Asefi said.