Zalmay Khaliilzad, American Ambassador to the United Nations told a Columbia University audience that Iran is deeply in debt for the manner in which the United States has helped eliminate Afghanistan and Iraq, two major foes of the Iranian government. By destroying the Taliban and Saddam Hussein’s government, “It’s helped Iran’s relative position in the region, because Iraq was a rival of Iran…. and the balance there has disintegrated or weakened.” The Ambassador declared there is no question the unintended consequence of the destruction of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the defeat of Saddam Hussein is the strengthening of Iran’s position in the Middle East. “I, as you know, have met with the Iranians many times over the years in my various positions, including in Afghanistan. And I used to tease the (Iranian) Ambassador that we have done so much for you in Iraq and Afghanistan, the least you can do is to be helpful to this effort. Otherwise, one day you will get a big bill.”
Khalilzad emphasized Iran’s right to peaceful use of nuclear energy and insisted his government was prepared to cooperate with Iranian leaders if they could receive assurances that no nuclear weapon development is planned. He also refused to apologize because he participated in discussions with Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki at the World Economic Forum in Davos. He was not engaged in any form of negotiations with the foreign minister but did respond to questions from the Iranian.