Iran Tops US List of Terrorism Sponsoring States
Iran was the most active state sponsor of terrorism last year, according to a report released by the US State Department on Monday. Other countries in the region were harboring terrorists, while others were being watched, said the document.
"Iran provided increasing support to numerous terrorist groups, including the Lebanese Hizbollah, Hamas and the Palestine Islamic Jihad, which seek to undermine the Middle East peace negotiations through the use of terrorism," the document said, cited by AFP.
So far, there has been no official Iranian response to the report.
However, an Iranian MP called on Muslim counties to set up a committee to make an in-depth probe into what he called the "regretful" status of human rights in the United States, reported the official Iranian news agency (IRNA) on Tuesday.
"To enlighten the world public opinion, Muslim nations should set up a joint committee to prepare a report to the Inter-Parliamentary Union on the status of human rights in the United States," said Alaeddin Boroujerdi, member of the Majlis (parliament) national security and foreign policy committee.
The US has been critical of the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic since the two countries severed relations in 1979.
The United States accuses Iran of sponsoring terrorism, seeking to sabotage Arab-Israeli peace efforts, and committing human rights abuses.
Iran has made talks with the US conditional on an end to the sanctions and the unfreezing of some 10 billion dollars of its assets, which have been tied up in US banks since November 1980.
Last month, US President George W. Bush said he had no intention of easing sanctions on Iran despite his interest in reviewing the effectiveness of all US economic sanctions.
The United States currently bans its oil companies from investing in Iran.
Former president Bill Clinton last year lifted controls on some non-oil Iranian exports -- caviar, pistachio nuts and rugs.
Asked about prospect of Iran-US ties while on a visit to Yemen on Monday, Iranian Foreign Minster Kamal Kharrazi said no particular change had been noticed in Tehran-Washington relations, said IRNA.
“The ties at present depend on the new US administration and whether it would correct the policies of former governments or would continue the wrong policies of the past,'' he noted.
“It's natural for the US, that has no links with us, to interpret any of Iran's actions in the other way,” he added.
But Iran, which has recently hosted a conference to support the Palestinian Intifada attended by Palestinian groups, was not the only Middle Eastern country cited by the report as a sponsor of terrorism.
According to the US State Department, Iraq continued to provide safe haven and support to a variety of Palestinian rejectionist groups -- those that rule out peace with Israel -- as well as bases, weapons and protection to the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, an Iranian terrorist group that opposes the current Iranian government, the report said.
Syria and Sudan, in addition to Cuba, were accused of providing safe haven and support to several terrorist groups, the report said.
The document noted that Libya "was attempting to mend its international image" following its surrender in 1999 of two Libyan suspects for trial in the Pan Am 103 bombing that left 270 people dead.
However, the report said the United States remained committed to removing countries from the list once they have taken necessary steps to end their link to terrorism, and was negotiating with North Korea and Sudan on that issue.
While not changing the list of state sponsors of terrorism, the State Department put Lebanon and Pakistan on notice.
"In South Asia, the United States has been increasingly concerned about reports of Pakistani support to terrorist groups and elements active in Kashmir, as well as Pakistani support, especially military support, to the Taliban, which continues to harbor terrorist groups, including al-Qaida, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan," the report said.
It noted that a variety of terrorist groups continued to operate and train inside Lebanon.
"Lebanon also has been unresponsive to US requests to bring to justice terrorists who conducted attacks against US citizens and property in Lebanon in previous years," the report said - Albawaba.com
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