NEW YORK - Iran’s Ambassador to Afghanistan has told a major American newspaper that his country is not providing weapons and cash to the Taliban to bolster the militant group as a counterweight to the Islamic State.

Ambassador Muhammad Reza Bahrami was responding to a report in the newspaper -- The Wall Street Journal --_that outlined how Taliban commanders received financial and military backing from Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps.

“We haven’t supported Taliban and we will not support any terrorism and extremist groups,” the Ambassador told WSJ.

Afghan and Western officials, according to the newspaper, claim that Iran has quietly stepped up support for the Taliban as a way to maintain influence with the group that continues to Press its military campaign against the Kabul government.

Tehran, they state sees the Taliban as a potential force that could return to power.

Iran, which has maintained an overtly anti-American foreign policy since the 1979 Islamic revolution, has been delivering weapons to the Taliban since at least 2007, the newspaper said, citing a 2014 Pentagon report.

Ambassador Bahrami, who served as a diplomat in Afghanistan during the country’s civil war in the 1990s, said it wasn’t Iran’s policy to back terrorist groups even if they indirectly supported Iran’s interests.

“The enemy of my enemy isn’t necessarily a friend,” he was quoted as stating. “Let’s not forget that terrorism is terrorism, extremism is extremism, and both have similar dangers.” According to WSJ, the Iranian diplomat, however, did discuss what he described as a new danger to the region: the rise of Sunni extremist group Islamic State. Afghan and international officials state Iran has boosted its backing to the Taliban in part to counterbalance the rise of Islamic State, which controls territory in Syria and Iraq, and which has started recruiting followers in Afghanistan.

“According to reports, Daesh is reinforcing its base and looking for new recruits,” Bahrami said, referring to Islamic State by its Arabic acronym. “We see this as a potential threat for Afghanistan and the region.”

“The recent experience in the Middle East has showed better that we should not meet these terrorist groups with negligence and appeasement,” the Ambassador added.