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U.S. Probing for Dialogue With Iran

December 3, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ After months of probing for a dialogue, the Clinton administration is losing its patience with Iran.

The United States is accusing Iran of reneging on promises to abandon support for terrorism and disclosing its refusal to cooperate in solving the bombing of Kohbar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996, which killed 19 U.S. servicemen.

A message from President Clinton to Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, who some administration officials perceived as a moderate, was delivered in August by Assistant Secretary of State Martin Indyk and Bruce Reidel of the National Security Council, an administration official said today.

Iran’s response was to deny involvement in the bombing, which also wounded hundreds of American servicemen and has never been solved, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

``We have not reached a conclusion regarding whether the attack was directed by the government of Iran,″ State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said Monday.

The jailing last week of cleric Abdollah Nouri, a former interior minister and close ally of Khatami who had called for more democracy and free debate, indicated that Iran was not about to move toward moderation and an end of 20 years of icy distance from the United States, once a close ally.

Iran also has rejected overtures to send U.S. officials to Tehran for extended periods to handle visas requests from Iranians wishing to visit the United States.

Still, spokesman Rubin noted that senior Iranian officials had publicly denounced terrorism. He said it is ``reasonable for us to expect that the actions and policies of the Islamic Republic should reflect these statements.″

And Khatami is believed to have intervened to postpone the spy trial s of 13 Iranian Jews. They remain in jail, however, and could be executed if convicted.

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