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Iran to see Iranians held by US in Iraq: Agency

By Staff
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Tehran, Apr 4: An Iranian representative is to meet five Iranians detained in Iraq by US forces in January, Iran's official IRNA news agency said today.

It did not say when any meeting would take place with the men Tehran says are diplomats.

''With the continuous efforts of Iran's embassy in Iraq, the cooperation of the Iraqi officials and the help of the UN representative, Iran's representative is supposed to meet our country's diplomats,'' a ''reliable source'' was quoted by IRNA as saying.

The United States says the five are linked to Iran's hardline Revolutionary Guards and says they were providing support to militants in Iraq, a charge Tehran denies.

Some analysts say Iran's Revolutionary Guards who seized 15 British sailors and marines in March 23 on Iran's border with Iraq may have been acting partly to send a message that Iran would not sit idle while its citizens were detained in Iraq.

Iranian officials dismiss any link between the Britons and the five Iranians in Iraq. Britain and the United States have said it would not get involved in negotiations over any swaps.

The report by IRNA follows the release on Tuesday of Iranian diplomat, Jalal Sharafi, who was captured by gunmen in the Iraqi capital in February. He was held for two months.

Iran blamed the US military for Sharafi's kidnapping but US officials denied any involvement. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said he did not know who held Sharafi.

An Iraqi government official said when Sharafi was seized that he was nabbed by 30 gunmen wearing the uniforms of an Iraqi army unit that often works with the US military in Iraq.

REUTERS

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