New York, Asharq Al-Awsat—Despite the nuclear deal between world powers and Tehran, the United States still considers Iran a “state sponsor of terrorism,” a high-ranking US official told Asharq Al-Awsat on Tuesday.
The official was present at a United Nations-sponsored counterterrorism summit taking place in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Leaders and representatives from more than 100 countries, including Iraq, Tunisia and Nigeria—who are facing terrorist threats from groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Boko Haram—were present at the conference.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif are both present in New York and Rouhani addressed the General Assembly on Monday. However, neither were invited to Tuesday’s counterterrorism summit and the US official said the Iranian regime’s status in Washington’s eyes as a state sponsor of terrorism was the reason for this.
Opening the conference, US President Barack Obama focused mainly on the threat of ISIS and its presence in Syria.
There have been recent overtures from Washington that it would be willing to acquiesce to Russian desires for the international community to cooperate with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in order to fight ISIS.
However, during his opening address at the summit Obama said ISIS could not be defeated until Assad had left power.
“The point I’m making is Assad is one of the recruiting sergeants for ISIL. Because of what he’s done to his people, that is one of the reasons why people are flocking to ISIL to fight with ISIL,” he said, using an alternative acronym for the terrorist group.