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Next round of Iran-US talks to be held soon: FM

Tehran, Nov 20, IRNA - Next round of Iran-US talks on Iraq will be held in a near future, said Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on Tuesday.

"The Swiss embassy in Iran has submitted a message from the US government to Iran for holding a new round of talks on Iraq," said the minister speaking to reporters at a press conference.

Noting that Iran "has responded positively to the US request," Mottaki stressed that the talks would be held "within the framework of assisting the Iraqi people and the security situation" in the war-torn country.

"The exact date of the next round of the talks will be announced later but it will be conducted anyway," said the minister.

Iranian and US officials have so far conducted three rounds of talks to discuss Iraq's crisis.

The talks were respectively held on May 28, July 24 and August 6 with the participation of Iran's Ambassador to Iraq Hassan Kazemi Qomi, his US counterpart Ryan Crocker and representatives of the Iraqi government.

Iran calls for immediate freedom of diplomats

Baghdad, Nov 20, IRNA - Iran has clearly called for immediate release of all Iranian prisoners kept in Iraq, Iran's Ambassador in Baghdad Hassan Kazemi Qomi said Monday evening.

"Iran urged the US to release all Iranian diplomats and nationals from detention in Iraq," he said in a meeting with families of some Iranian diplomats kept in US jails in Iraq.

The families were in Iraq to meet with their loved ones.

"The Iraqi officials have made all efforts to release Iranian nationals from US captivity," said the ambassador adding, "The US officials in Iraq have recently said that Iranian captives can meet with their family members on a monthly basis."

The ambassador expressed hope that all Iranian captives would be free from detention after restoration of peace and stability to the war-torn country.

The diplomats were part of a five-member group of Iranian consulate officers taken captive by US forces in the city of Erbil, northern Iraq, in January 2007.

Nine Iranian nationals including two of the five diplomats taken captive in the city of Erbil, northern Iraq, in January 2007, 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.

Families of the detained diplomats became closely informed of their health condition in a two-hour meeting on Monday which was held under surveillance of a military man and woman.

... Payvand News - 11/20/07 ... --

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