Iran urges release of citizens held in Iraq by US

Iran urged the release of its citizens held in Iraq by the U.S. military, the request coming amid signs Tehran was warming to the new administration of Obama.

Iran urges release of citizens held in Iraq by US

Iran on Thursday urged the release of its citizens held in Iraq by the U.S. military, the request coming amid signs Tehran was warming to the new administration of President Barack Obama.

The U.S. military detained five Iranians in the city of Arbil, 310 km (190 miles) north of Baghdad, in Jan. 2007. In November that year, U.S. officials said they would release two of the five, whom Iran said were diplomats.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, on a visit to Iraq, did not say how many of the five were still in custody. U.S. military officials responsible for detainees were not immediately available.

"The Americans have spoken about change and we hope that in line with this there will be a quick release of our diplomats," Mottaki said in comments carried by Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency.

On Wednesday he said Tehran looked positively on Obama's pledge to hold talks with the Islamic Republic, a break from the policy of former President George W. Bush.

The five Iranians were detained on suspicion of being members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' elite Qods force.

The tone of Mottaki's remarks on Wednesday, when he said change under Obama would be "happy news" was warmer than many previous Iranian comments.

On Tuesday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran was ready to hold talks, provided they were held in an atmosphere of "mutual respect".

Reuters
Last Mod: 12 Şubat 2009, 17:55
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