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Iran Rejects US Requests to Share al-Qaida Information

Iran says it will not share its intelligence on suspected al-Qaida members with the United States, in spite of several requests from Washington.

Iranian government spokesman Abdollah Ramazanzadeh says his country will not share the requested intelligence because Iran does not have any relations with the American security services.

He was speaking a day after U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said U.S.-Iran relations will not improve until the Tehran government shares intelligence about al-Qaida members it says it has captured crossing into the Islamic Republic from neighboring countries.

U.S. officials have accused Iran of sheltering al-Qaida members linked to bombings in Saudi Arabia in May in which 35 people were killed, including nine Americans. Iran denies cooperating with al-Qaida.

Iran has said it will not heed a U.S. request to extradite al-Qaida suspects to their countries of origin or to the United States.

Tehran reported to the United Nations that it has already caught and extradited more than 200 suspected al-Qaida and Taleban members who crossed into Iran from Afghanistan and Pakistan in the last two years. But Tehran says it is holding on to some additional suspects it wants to try for crimes against Iran.

The United States rejects such moves, insisting Iran should hand over all al-Qaida members to the United States, or extradite them to countries where they are suspected of having committed crimes.

The Iranian spokesman, Mr. Ramazanzadeh, said Wednesday it is up to Washington to take what he called practical steps if it wants to improve U.S.-Iranian ties.

Diplomatic relations were severed shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Low-level talks have been held from time to time since then, and there have been cultural exchanges. But there has been no concerted effort to restore normal ties, as Washington calls Iran part of an axis of evil, and Iran calls the United States the great Satan.

Iran expert Ahmed Menissy, chief editor of Iran Digest, says any warming in U.S.-Iran relations seems unlikely anytime soon.

Mr. Menissy said Iran is not willing to let the United States determine who is a terrorist suspect. In addition, he says there is the question of millions of dollars in Iranian assets frozen in the United States after the Islamic Revolution.