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Iran studying date of next round of talks with US on Iraq

Tehran, Dec 22, IRNA - Government spokesman, Gholam-Hossein Elham, said on Saturday that Tehran is studying the existing proposals for holding the fourth round of talks with US on Iraq situation.

Speaking to reporters at his weekly press conference, the spokesman said, "We are studying the dates proposed by Americans (officials) for the talks."

Referring to the recent visit to Iraq of an Iranian delegation, Elham said members of the delegation discussed with their Iraqi friends the existing proposals for the date of the next round of talks.

"No date, however, has been fixed for the talks yet," he said.

The spokesman stressed that the next round of Iran-US talks should be "useful, progressing and effective in restoring security for the Iraqi people, strengthening Iraqi government and paving the way for withdrawal of occupiers."

Elham added that talks were still underway with the Iraqi side to determine a date for the fourth round of Iran-US talks.

FM pursuing release of remaining diplomats in Iraq

Elham said that Foreign Ministry is seriously following up the release of the remaining Iranian diplomats from US captivity in Baghdad.

He said that detention of the Iranian diplomats by US forces was against international regulations and the Vienna Convention.

Elham urged the US to help release the remaining Iranian diplomats in Iraq, stressing that the move will also benefit Washington.

Five Iranian consulate officers were taken captive by US forces in the city of Erbil, northern Iraq, in January 2007.

Nine Iranian nationals including two of the five diplomats were released by the US forces on November 9.

However, another group of Iranians including three diplomats, three government employees and 20-25 Iranian citizens are still being kept in Iraq, reports added.

Iran-U.S. talks will be more fruitful if diplomats freed: Iraqi official

TEHRAN, Dec. 22 (Mehr News Agency) - The Iran-U.S. talks on Iraq's security situation will surely become more fruitful if the United State forces release the Iranian diplomats, an Iraqi political official said on Saturday.

Mohsen al-Hakim, who acts as political adviser to Iraqi Islamic Council Chairman Abudl Aziz al-Hakim, said the Iraqi officials are trying to obtain the release of the remaining Iranian diplomats who are detained in Iraq "without any reason."

He said the issue is always raised in Iraqi officials' meetings with U.S. officials, al-Hakim told the Mehr News Agency.

U.S. troops stormed the Iranian consulate in northern Kurdish city of Irbil on January 11 and arrested five diplomats under the pretext that they were fomenting violence in Iraq.

Two of the detainees were freed along with seven other Iranians on Nov. 9 and returned to the country. The U.S. military confirmed on Friday that it had freed an Iranian national who had been arrested and kept in custody in Iraq since 2004.

Al-Hakim said, "Technical problems which have delayed the talks are being resolved."

Iran has agreed with a fourth round of talks with the United States on Iraq's security condition.

The Iranian and U.S. ambassadors to Iraq, Hassan Kazemi-Qomi and Ryan Crocker, met on August 6 in Baghdad for their third round of security talks. The first and second rounds of negotiations were held in Baghdad on May 28 and July 24.

"Although the outcomes of the past three rounds of Iran-U.S. talks were fewer than what we expected, many effective steps were taken within that framework," the IIC official stated.

The negotiations have had a great influence on improving security situation in Iraq, he added.

... Payvand News - 12/22/07 ... --

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