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Iran Warns, Gates Warms

After an unprecedented visit by Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Kabul this week to meet with Afghan president Hamid Karzai, there are diverging narratives after his departure.

In a speech later delivered back in Iran's Hormuzgan province, Ahmadinejad warned its neighbors over the U.S. presence in the Gulf.

"We warn the countries in the region over the presence of bullying powers ... they have not come here to restore security or to counter drug trafficking," Ahmadinejad said in a speech during a visit to the southern province of Hormuzgan.

The hardline president accused the West of planning to dominate energy resources in the Gulf and said: "People in the region will cut off their hands from the Persian Gulf's oil."

Those are astounding words after a visit to the Afghan people we are trying to win over. A visit right in the middle of a US war zone by a demonstrated and self-declared enemy of America, dubbed the "Great Satan."

In sharp but muted contrast, the American Secretary of Defense downplayed Iran's support for the Taliban, saying that Iran provides only 'limited' support for the Taliban.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said Thursday that Iran's support for the Taliban in Afghanistan is "pretty limited".

Gates spoke Thursday during a stop at a U.S. military base en route to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

The defense secretary said Iran's level of influence on the Taliban is not a major problem for the United States at this point. But Gates added he does not want the problem to grow worse.

The 'kinder, gentler' approach has never worked with Iran. Likewise, US forces confronting and often dying fighting the Taliban would understandably see Secretary of Defense Gates' words - in context of a visit to the battlefield by one of America's most bitter and lethal enemies - as insulting.

And who could blame them?

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