A senior U.S. diplomat accused Iran on Tuesday of transferring weapons to Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan — the most direct comments yet on the issue by a ranking American official.

Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, speaking to reporters in Paris, said Iran was funding insurrections across the Middle East — and "Iran is now even transferring arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan."

Iran's possible role in aiding insurgents in Iraq has long been hotly debated, and last month some Western and Persian Gulf governments charged that the Islamic government in Tehran is secretly bolstering Taliban fighters.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Monday, U.S. Army Gen. Dan McNeill said Taliban fighters are showing signs of better training, using combat techniques comparable to "an advanced Western military" in ambushes of U.S. Special Forces soldiers.

"In Afghanistan it is clear that the Taliban is receiving support, including arms from ... elements of the Iranian regime," British Prime Minister Tony Blair wrote in the May 31 edition of the Economist.

Iran, which is also in a dispute with the West over its nuclear program, denies the Taliban accusation, calling it part of a broad anti-Iranian campaign. Tehran says it makes no sense that a Shiite-led government like itself would help the fundamentalist Sunni movement of the Taliban.