Iran continues to be the biggest supporter of terrorism around the world, with elements of its government supporting extremist groups throughout the Middle East, particularly in Iraq, the United States State Department says.
In its annual global survey of terrorism to be released Monday, the department once again singles out Iran as the most active state sponsor of terror, accusing it of helping to plan and foment attacks to destabilize Iraq and derail Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.
The designation in the 2006 edition of the Country Reports on Terrorism is not new, as the State Department regularly identifies Iran as the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism.
But the report is being released as U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice prepares to attend a conference of Iraq's neighbors at which she has not ruled out a meeting with Iran's foreign minister in what could be the first-cabinet level contact with Iran since 2004.
The report says Iran's Revolutionary Guard and intelligence ministry were directly involved in the planning and support of terrorist acts and continued to exhort a variety of groups, especially Palestinian groups with leadership cadres in Syria and Lebanese Hezbollah, to use terrorism in pursuit their goals.
In Iraq, it says Iran has played a destabilizing role, giving material support and guidance to Shi'ite insurgent groups that have attacked Sunnis, U.S. and Iraqi forces.
It also says the Revolutionary Guard has been linked to armor-piercing explosives that resulted in the deaths of coalition forces and has helped, along with Lebanon's radical Hezbollah movement, train Iraqi extremists to build bombs.
At the same time, Iran maintained a high-profile role in encouraging anti-Israeli activity, rhetorically, operationally and financially, the report says.
In addition, the report says that Iran is still refusing to identify, try or turn over several senior members of Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaida network whom it detained in 2003.
Iran is one of five countries identified by Washington as state sponsors of terrorism. The others are Cuba, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.
Last year, Libya, which had shared the designation for years, was removed from the list after it renounced terrorism and agreed to abandon its weapons of mass destruction programs in 2003.
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