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Arrested Iranian diplomats to be released this week: envoy

Baghdad, Jan 20, IRNA-Five Iranian diplomats arrested in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil nine days ago could be released this week, Iranian Ambassador to Baghdad Hassan Kazemi Qomi said on Saturday.

Speaking to IRNA, Kazemi Qomi said that the Iraqi government has promised to free the diplomats.

"The host country is responsible for safeguarding diplomatic bureaus and missions. The Iraqi government has made efforts to release the Iranian consular officials since the early hours of this incident," he said.

US forces broke into Iran's consulate in Erbil on January 11 after disarming its guards and using force to break open the gate of the consulate building.

They ransacked the place, arrested six consular staff (one of which has since been released) which they took away along with the consulate's computers and documents to an unknown place.

The Islamic Republic of Iran Friday wrote a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon protesting against the storming of the consulate and arrest of its diplomats.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini on January 14 said that all activities of its consulate in Erbil were legal, official and endorsed by Iraqi officials, and recalled that the consulate in Erbil was officially inaugurated in 1992 upon an agreement signed by Iranian and Iraqi officials.

Kazemi Qomi stressed that such willful violation of international conventions by Washington would have no negative impact on the friendly and historical ties between neighboring states Iran and Iraq.

... Payvand News - 1/20/07 ... --

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