State Dept. Keeps Eye on Iran as Leading Sponsor of Terrorism

Article excerpt

Despite a visit to the United States by an Iranian wrestling team and a promise of cultural exchange signaling a thaw in U.S.-Iranian relations, the State Department is keeping a close eye on Iran because it remained the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism last year.

"Iran especially continues to merit close attention. Last year, Iranian security services conducted at least 13 assassinations of dissidents abroad. And they continued to support some of the world's deadliest terrorist groups, making Iran once again the most active state sponsor of terrorism," said a senior State Department official at a background briefing yesterday.

"Unfortunately, despite the statements of President [Mohammed] Khatami and others in the Iranian government condemning terrorism, terrorist activity directed from Iran has continued into 1998," he said, refusing to comment on Iranian terrorist acts in 1998.

The 86-page annual report, "Patterns of Global Terrorism," which is required by Congress, said the appointment of Mr. Khatami had not changed Tehran's view on terrorism.

The same seven countries as last year - Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria - have been designated as sponsors of terrorism, making them subject to U.S. sanctions.

Cuba remains on the list even though though the report said it "no longer supports armed struggle in Latin America and other parts of the world."

"The island nation still maintains close ties with other state sponsors of terrorism and leftist insurgent groups in Latin America," the report stated.

Libya and Syria continue to provide haven for terrorists.

Iran's attacks were mostly targeted in northern Iraq, where it has tried to stamp out opposition groups such as the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran and the People's Mojahedin. …