Ahmadinejad Warns NATO to Stay away from Caucasus

A05072199.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that the Caucasus does not need NATO interference in the region in the wake of the recent conflict in Georgia.

“Countries in the Caucasus region can solve their own problems without the interference of NATO or others,” Ahmadinejad said at a meeting with Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandyan in Tehran.

“Such interference will only worsen the situation in the Caucasus,” he added.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, heading a delegation of envoys from all 26 members of the Western military alliance, arrived in Georgia on Monday to discuss plans for Tbilisi’s possible NATO membership and met with President Mikheil Saakashvili.

Scheffer said earlier on Tuesday that the alliance has a strong desire for deeper ties with Georgia in light of the recent conflict in South Ossetia.

“The process of NATO enlargement will continue,” said Scheffer.

Russia and Georgia fought a five-day war in August after Georgian forces had launched an attack on South Ossetia. Two weeks after the conclusion of Moscow’s military operation to “force Georgia to accept peace,” Russia recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another separatist republic, as independent states.

The West heavily criticized both the recognition of the regions and what it called Russia’s “disproportionate” response to the Georgian attack. Russia and NATO have since frozen cooperation.

Russia says the US orchestrated the crisis in the Caucasus and gave the green light to Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to carry out the assault against South Ossetians.

Ahmadinejad said the times of a unipolar world are over and called for a new world order that could provide stable peace and friendship among nations.

President Ahmadinejad, however, warned that a military pact between the NATO and Georgia would only simmer tensions in the volatile Caucasus.

The Armenian Foreign Minister, for his part, confirmed Ahmadinejad’s assertion that the recent development in the region has highlighted the need for closer cooperation among regional countries.

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