WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush, in a blunt warning to Iran, said Thursday the U.S.-led coalition "will deal with them diplomatically, initially" if Tehran tries to destabilize war-torn Afghanistan.
Bush delivered the warning as administration officials fretted over reports that Iran is trying to challenge the authority of the interim government in Kabul, Afghanistan, and may be giving safe harbor to al-Qaida terrorist leaders fleeing U.S. and allied military troops there.
"Iran must be a contributor in the war against terror," Bush told reporters after an Oval Office meeting on domestic issues. "Our nation, in our fight against terrorism, will uphold the doctrine of either you're with us or against us."
He said Iran, which gave the United States "positive signals" of cooperation early on, must not "allow al-Qaida murderers to hide in their country" and must hand over any who have already slipped across the Iranian border.
"If they're a part of the coalition, they need to be an active member of the coalition," Bush said.
As for the long-term goal of stability in Afghanistan, where a transitional government rules, Bush said the United States wants to work with the Iranians.
"If they in any way, shape, or form try to destabilize the government, the coalition will deal with them, you know, in diplomatic ways, initially," Bush said.
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