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Television says kidnapped Iranian diplomat in Iraq freed

Tehran, Sept 27, IRNA -- Fereidoun Jahani, an Iranian diplomat who was kidnapped in Iraq in August, has been freed and is now under protection of the Iranian embassy in Baghdad, the satellite news channel Al-Alam said Monday.

Jahani was abducted by a group calling itself Islamic Army in Iraq on August 4 on the way to Karbala from Baghdad, where he was to assume his consular post.

The release comes right on the heels of a meeting between Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi and his Iraqi counterpart Hoshiyar Zebari in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations' annual meeting, in which they discussed the matter.

Jahani's relatives on Monday were cited as having criticized officials for being 'lackadaisical' in following up his fate.

According to press reports, his father accused the Foreign Ministry of 'providing no assistance' to establish the whereabouts of his son.

"More than 50 days have passed since the abduction of my son; while we have regularly kept in touch with Iran's embassy in Iraq and the Foreign Ministry during this period, we have not been provided with any clear answer," the daily Kayhan quoted him as saying.

"This shows the officials are not following up the issue," he added, as quoted by the paper.

According to Jahani's mother, cited by Kayhan, the diplomat's family wants to know 'what group has kidnapped him and what are their demands for his release'.

Jahani's wife, Saeedeh Tavassoli, protested to what she called Iranian officials' 'laxity' in following up his fate, according to the paper.

Iran said Sunday it had exhausted all diplomatic efforts for the release of the diplomat.

"We have taken many measures for the release of Mr. Jahani and used all our diplomatic capacities," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said.

Iraq's new Ambassador to Iran, Mohammad Majid al-Sheikh, expressed recently his concern over the continued capture of Jahani, saying 'the Iraqi Foreign Ministry is following up the issue'.

The group, said to have slain Italian journalist Enzo Baldoni, had threatened to punish Jahani within 48 hours after his arrest if Iran did not release 500 prisoners it alleges were captured in the two countries war of 1980 and 1988.

Al-Sheikh also regretted the martyrdom of Labib Mohammadi, an employee of the Baghdad office of Iran's Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization, who is said to have been assassinated near Karbala.

Iran has demanded that 'the Iraqi interim government work seriously to identify and punish those behind' the assassination.

Earlier this month, the Foreign Ministry summoned Iraqi Charge d'Affaires Khalil Salman al-Sabihi to 'strongly protest this terrorist action'.

Kharrazi regretted the 'martyrdom' of Mohammadi as well as assassination in April of the Iranian embassy's first secretary in Baghdad, Khalil Naimi.

The minister expressed concern over the disappearance of the Iranians in Iraq and called on the Iraqi authorities to resolve the matter as soon as possible.

Four Iranian businessmen working to improve trade ties with Iraq have been arrested by US troops who reportedly handed them over to the Iraqi police.

Officials have said that Iran holds the interim Iraqi government responsible for the safety of its nationals.

Last month, the Iraqi police freed IRNA reporter in Baghdad Mostafa Darban, whom they had arrested along three other IRNA journalists on August 9.

... Payvand News - 9//26/04 ... --

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