Iran declines to share data about al-Qaida with U.S.

Tehran seeks concessions for negotiations to resume

October 30, 2003|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

TEHRAN, Iran - Iran said yesterday that it would not share intelligence with the United States on operatives of al-Qaida or hand over al-Qaida suspects in Iranian detention and that it would resume dialogue only after the United States undertakes what it termed measures to build confidence.

It was not clear whether the United States would first have to restore diplomatic relations broken after the storming of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in the fall of 1979.

"You cannot threaten from one side and freeze assets from the other side; level accusations from one side and then request dialogue from the other side; we need to see America's practical steps," the government spokesman, Abdullah Ramezanzadeh, told reporters.

"They have leveled too many false accusations against us, and they should stop that," he said. "They should also unfreeze our assets and lift the sanctions."

Ramezanzadeh was responding to comments made Tuesday by Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage, who signaled U.S. willingness to hold limited talks with Iran. Armitage, striking a conciliatory tone, also said the Bush administration did not favor "regime change" in Iran.

By contrast, President Bush grouped Iran with Iraq and North Korea as an "axis of evil" in his State of the Union address last year.

The United States severed talks with Iran after a series of bombings in Saudi Arabia in May that the United States said were linked to groups based in Iran. Iran has denied the assertion.

The United States had also asked Iran to turn over detained senior members of al-Qaida.

Ramezanzadeh said yesterday that Iran had no security agreement with the United States to turn over the detainees. He said Iran had returned some detainees to countries with which it had such security agreements. He said the rest would be dealt with according to Iranian laws.

Iran announced this week that it had given to the United Nations the names of 225 Qaida members it had arrested. It said that nearly 78 of them had been returned to their countries of origin.

"We believe that all countries should deal with terrorism and terrorist groups indiscriminately," Ramezanzadeh said. "We have also taken necessary measures against terrorism according to international regulations and do not need other countries to interfere in our affairs."

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