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US Forces in Baghdad Seize Iranians Invited to Iraq

U.S. officials say American forces in Baghdad detained several Iranians last week suspected of inciting attacks against Iraqi troops.

Iraqi officials say Iraqi President Jalal Talabani had invited two of the Iranians to the capital, and he was unhappy that U.S. forces had detained them.

U.S. officials say two Iranian diplomats seized by U.S. forces were later turned over to Iraqi authorities and released. A State Department spokeswoman told VOA that the men were released because they had diplomatic immunity.

The New York Times says that at least four Iranians remain in U.S. custody, and that the U.S. claims that they are senior Iranian military officials.

The State Department spokeswoman refused to give details about the attacks the Iranians were allegedly planning.

She said the Iranians still in U.S. custody are being questioned. She declined to say how many are still being held.

Reports from Iran say the country's foreign ministry has summoned the Swiss ambassador to discuss the case. The Swiss embassy represents U.S. interests in Iran.

The Times says some of the Iranians were seized at the Baghdad compound of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of the largest Shi'ite bloc in Iraq's parliament. Hakim met with President Bush earlier this month at the White House.

Washington has accused Iranian agents of stirring up sectarian violence in Iraq by arming and training Shi'ite militias. Tehran says it only has political and religious links with Iraqi Shi'ites.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

... Payvand News - 12/25/06 ... --

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