Iran has received word that the United States is ready to release two Iranians held in Iraq, state radio reported on Monday, but a U.S. military spokesman said he had "no knowledge" of any such action.
U.S. forces in 2007 detained five Iranians in the northern Iraqi town of Arbil. Two of them were freed later the same year. Iran says they are diplomats and has demanded their release.
State radio said Iran's ambassador to Baghdad had received a letter from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) saying the U.S. military was ready to free two Iranians, including a former embassy employee in Arbil.
It said the second Iranian was accused of having entered Iraq illegally, without giving more details.
The ICRC letter to Iranian Ambassador Hassan Kazemi-Qomi "expressed the American forces' readiness to release two Iranian individuals," the radio report said.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi told a news conference: "We hope the Islamic Republic's efforts to secure their (the Iranians held in Iraq) release will come to fruition and they will return to their families."
Asked about the Iranian media report Captain Will Powell, a U.S. spokesman for U.S. detainee operations in Iraq, told Reuters in Baghdad:
"We are unable to validate this claim. We have not received word that any Iranians are scheduled for release or transfer at this time."
New U.S. President Barack Obama last month spoke of possible diplomatic openings with Tehran, marking a break with his predecessor George W. Bush. Iran in turn said it was ready for talks as long as they were "fair".
Güncelleme Tarihi: 02 Mart 2009, 13:16