Hamas serving as Iran's 'proxy warriors': Rice
Palestinian Hamas militants are serving as the "proxy warriors" for an Iran bent on destroying Israel and destabilising the Middle East, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said here Tuesday.
In a speech to the American Jewish Committee in Washington that underscored growing US concerns about Tehran, Rice mentioned Iran as not just a threat in the Palestinian territories, but also in Lebanon, Iraq and even in Afghanistan.
Israel's Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz said after talks with Rice on Monday that an Iran-led radical front in the Middle East is becoming more powerful and weaknesses in it need to be found.
Rice vowed to pursue US efforts to isolate Hamas, which she said refused to renounce violence, recognise Israel's right to exist and respect all previous Palestinian agreements with Israel.
"But perhaps of deepest concern, the leaders of Hamas are increasingly serving as the proxy warriors of an Iranian regime that is destabilising the region, seeking a nuclear capability and proclaiming its desire to destroy Israel," Rice told the group's annual meeting.
She did not elaborate.
Iran is one of the most vocal backers of the Islamic Resistance Movement and pledged millions of dollars in 2006 to help a Hamas government through a funding drought caused by Western aid cuts.