Pompeo: Iran is a 'new home base' for Al-Qaeda

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Iran, whose population is predominantly Shia, has always been considered an enemy of the Sunni-based al-Qaeda.

In November, The New York Times reported that Abu Muhammad al-Masri, a militant accused of masterminding the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998, was killed in Tehran by Israeli operatives.

The Trump administration's top diplomat accused Iran of providing a safe haven to hundreds of members of the armed group, with al-Qaeda centralising its leadership inside the country.

Iranian officials have flatly rejected accusations that their country has harbored or provided support to Al Qaeda leaders.

"I would say Iran is indeed the new Afghanistan - as the key geographic hub for Al-Qaeda - but it's actually worse", he said.

The delegation, led by First Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun, met with Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and Governor of the Central Bank of Iran Abdolnaser Hemmati.

Reuters reported late Monday that Pompeo-a warhawk and an architect of the Trump administration's so-called "maximum pressure" strategy-"plans to use newly declassified USA intelligence on Tuesday to publicly accuse Iran of ties to Al Qaeda, two people familiar with the matter said, as part of his last-minute offensive against Tehran before handing over to the incoming Biden administration".

"Al-Qaeda has a new home base".

The majority of the perpetrators of the September 11, 2001, attacks in NY came from US-ally Saudi Arabia.

Shi'ite Iran and al Qaeda, a Sunni Muslim group, have always been sectarian foes.

"Iran chose to allow al-Qaeda to establish a new operational headquarters on the condition that al-Qaeda operatives abide by the regime's rules governing al-Qaeda's stay inside of the country", he said.

"Al-Masri's presence inside Iran points to the reason that we're here today".

Iran wants to remove a clause from a 2015 nuclear deal that allows for United Nations sanctions against it to be reinstated, a senior official has said, hinting Tehran would be open to negotiations on the issue.

The administration of President Donald Trump is using its final days to ramp up pressure on Iran.

Anne Harrington, a specialist in nuclear proliferation issues at Cardiff University in Wales, told CNBC on Tuesday that Iran's intentions are meant to pressure the incoming Biden administration into rejoining the JCPOA rather than renegotiating its terms.

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