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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Iran Admits Close Ties With Chalabi

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran on Sunday rejected accusations embattled Iraqi politician Ahmad Chalabi had passed along classified intelligence material, but acknowledged having a "continuous and permanent dialogue" with him.

Chalabi's long-standing contacts with Iran have left some in the U.S. government suspicious about his intentions. Chalabi, once a darling of the U.S. Defense Department, has denied allegations he handed over sensitive information to Iran about the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

"We had continuous and permanent dialogue with Chalabi and other members of the Iraqi Governing Council," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said at a news conference. "But spying charges are unfounded and baseless. It's not true at all."

"We didn't receive any confidential information from Chalabi or any other member of the Iraqi Governing Council," Asefi said.

Asefi also said that Iran has sent a "warning" message to the United States through the Swiss Embassy concerning Washington's actions in Iraq. In the absence of formal diplomatic relations between the two countries, Switzerland looks after American interests in Iran.

"The message is one of warning," Asefi said without providing any details. He was responding to a question about whether Iran had sent a message to the United States to protest its policy in neighboring Iraq, including damage to Shiite holy shrines there.

Recent fighting in the Shiite holy cities of Najaf and Karbala has prompted demonstrations and warnings from clerics and the public in Shiite Muslim Iran.