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Released Iranian diplomat arrives in Tehran

Tehran, Sept 29, IRNA -- The Iranian diplomat Fereydoun Jahani, who was kidnapped in Iraq in August and released on Monday, arrived in Tehran's Mehrabad airport on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters, Jahani said that he was taken hostage in Iraq by a group calling itself the Islamic Army in Iraq.

According to him though he was mistreated after being arrested his captors later changed their attitude towards him.

In response to a question about the reason for his trip to Iraq, he said, "I was on a mission as Iran's consul to Iraq and was appointed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

After a reporter asked him whether Iran was licensed to open a consular office in the holy Iraqi city of Karbala, he said that the related application was being examined. He added that he entered Iraq legally and was holding a diplomatic passport.

On the claims that he was not a diplomat as brought up by some media, he rejected them and underlined, "I was a diplomat and was appointed as Iran's consul to Iraq and entered the country as a diplomat."

He was then questioned whether his release was approved by Iraq's government, to which he replied that he was taken hostage by an Iraqi group.

The next question raised was, "What did your captors ask for?" Jahani replied, "First of all, they called for release of the Iraqi prisoners of war (POW). However, they soon realized that there are no more POWs in Iran.

"In fact, time played a crucial role in my release, given they turned out to confirm that I was a diplomat and Iran's consul to Iraq," he added.

Turning to his 55-day captivity, he stated that he was one of the hostages taken in Iraq who spent the longest term in custody.

In addition to his family and friends, the diplomat was welcomed at Mehrabad International Airport by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi and a number of Foreign Ministry officials.

... Payvand News - 9/29/04 ... --

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