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U.S. Rejects ‘retraction’ of Iranian Death Threat

An Iranian official’s withdrawal of his death threat against Westerners “falls far short of any disavowal” of terrorism, the State Department said Thursday.

Deputy department spokesman Richard Boucher was reacting to what he called a “so-called retraction” of the death threat made by Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, speaker of Iran’s parliament.

Rafsanjani made the threat last week, when he called for five Americans or other Westerners to be murdered for every Palestinian killed by Israeli soldiers.

The New York Times quoted Rafsanjani as saying Wednesday on Teheran radio, “I really do not advise this and consider it a weak point.”

The Times said Rafsanjani clarified that “what he had meant was that Israeli oppression of Palestinians could lead to violence.”

“Our view of Iran’s support for terrorism has not changed,” Boucher said. If it wants to join “the community of civilized nations, it must unconditionally rescind all of its death threats and exhortations to violence and cease its sponsorship of terrorism in all forms.”

Boucher added that Iran should use its “admitted influence with the kidnappers in Lebanon to secure the immediate and unconditional release of all of the hostages.”

Boucher and White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater would not comment on reports that the Central Intelligence Agency has concluded that Iran, in conjunction with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, planned the December downing of Pan American Flight 103, which exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland.

They said the crash investigation has not been completed.

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