Gulf & Middle East
Iranian envoy to meet detained Iranians in Iraq
Apr 4, 2007 - 4:02:38 PM

Tehran, April 4 - An Iranian envoy will go to Iraq to meet the five Iranians detained by US forces in Iraq's northern city of Arbil in January, Iran's state television reported on Wednesday.

'An Iranian representative will meet our country's diplomats 'with the efforts of Iran's embassy in Iraq, the Iraqi officials and the UN representative, the report said, without providing details on when the meeting will take place.

US forces raided an Iranian official office in Arbil on Jan. 11 and arrested five of its staff members, accusing them of supporting militants in Iraq, a charge denied by Tehran.

The latest move came just one day after the second secretary of Iran's embassy in Iraq, Jalal Sharafi who was kidnapped in Baghdad in February, had been released.

Sharafi, had been released and returned to Tehran Tuesday, Iran's state media reported, without disclosing how and when he was released.

Iran's embassy in Iraq on Tuesday also made an announcement and confirmed this report.

'He was released yesterday - and I don't have further details on his kidnapping,' said an official on condition of anonymity.

Sharafi was abducted on Feb. 4 by about 30 gunmen wearing Iraqi army uniforms in more than 10 military vehicles, in front of the Baghdad branch of Iran's state-owned Bank Melli without any escort.

Iran accused the U.S. forces in Iraq of 'supervising the operation,' saying, 'Iran holds America responsible for the safety and life of the - diplomat.'

But the U.S. side has denied the accusations. The U.S. military on Tuesday said it was ignorant of Sharafi's release.

'We were not holding him, so we do not know about his release,' said spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Garver.

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