Ahmadinejad Denies Aiding Taliban

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in an exclusive interview with CBS News, July 26, 2010.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in an exclusive interview with CBS News, July 26, 2010.
Pakistan isn't the only one of Afghanistan's neighbors mentioned in the leaked documents. Iran is also accused of helping the Afghan insurgents. But is it? CBS News correspondent Richard Roth put that question to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran today -- in an exclusive interview.

An aide sitting out of camera range gestured his irritation at our question about Afghanistan. Ahmadinejad just flatly rejected the explosive charges.

"You don't deny Mr. President that Iran supports the Taliban?" Roth asked?

"We do not support any group," President Ahmadinejad replied. "We just and only support the Afghan people. We support and we want to strengthen security in Afghanistan. And we think the Afghan people should run their own country. We think the root cause is related to the intervention of the United States and NATO. It's been for about 20 years that the Americans are interfering directly in Afghanistan."

Afghanistan is not the only issue confronting Iran. Iran's alleged attempts to produce a nuclear bomb have drawn new sanctions.

"Does it concern you that the people of Iran may be feeling the effects now of sanctions that result from Iran's nuclear policies?" Roth asked.

"I think the policies by the Europeans and the Americans are ridiculous. They think they are going to influence the life of the Iranian society. In fact, they're imposing sanctions against themselves. Iran is a great nation with a great population. We have vast and rich resources and it's very much easy for us to overcome old problems."

One unsolved problem is the 31-year freeze in relations with America.

"I sense that you feel an opportunity was missed for a reconciliation with America," Roth asked, "but you clearly don't feel that you missed the opportunity?"

"Please pay attention," Ahmadinejad replied. "I sent a letter to Bush, and that letter was a golden opportunity for the U.S administration in order to change policy, and they should not continue the hostility."

"During my visit in New York, I said I was ready to talk to President Obama. After the election of Mr. Obama, I sent a message and in different occasions and meetings we said we would support changes and we are ready to help."

When asked if that be in New York at the U.N. this September? Ahmadinejad replied, "God willing."

Katie Couric Interviews Ahmadinejad, Sept. 2009, Part 1
Couric's Ahmadinejad Interview Part 2