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Iran urges Iraq for more efforts for release of kidnapped diplomats

Tehran, Nov 25, IRNA - Iran urged Iraqi officials to continue efforts for the release of remaining Iranian diplomats from US captivity in Baghdad, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini said on Sunday.

"Iran called on Iraqi authorities to follow up US pledge to release the diplomats" taken captive by US forces in the city of Erbil, northern Iraq, in 2007," Hosseini said.

"God willing, they will be released in the near future," hoped the spokesman.

The remaining diplomats are part of a five-member group of Iranian consulate officers taken captive by US troops in Erbil 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.

Hosseini appreciated the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Embassy of Switzerland in Tehran for the efforts they had made to organize a meeting between the remaining diplomats and their families.

The meeting was held last Monday for two hours under surveillance of a military man and woman.

"The US officials have recently announced that they had found no proof against the two remaining Iranian diplomats and that they played no role in Iraq's tensions," Hosseini added.

He reiterated that detention of the Iranian diplomats by the US forces was "illegal."

Date of Iran-US talks on Iraq to be announced

Hosseini said here Sunday that Tehran is studying the US request for talks with Iran on Iraq.

Addressing the press briefing, he said Iran has received the US request and is currently studying it. The date of the talks will be announced by Tehran, he added.

Anti-Iran propaganda in Iraq denounced

Hosseini denounced US officials' anti-Iran propaganda in Iraq stressing that Washington should "take into consideration Iraq's security and stability more seriously."

He made the remarks while commenting on claims of some of the US officials and military commanders who implicated Iran of being involved in recent blasts in Iraq.

"During the past couple of days, US officials have made contradictory comments about Iran," Hosseini said adding, "Some US military commanders and politicians have said that Iran's role was positive (in Iraq) while after the latest explosion in Iraq some other US officials made different statements."

"Those contradictory allegations are made in line with and to complete US political propaganda against Iran," Hosseini said.

He added the more power and authority be given to the Iraqi government and its security forces, the stronger the security in that country will be.

Tehran not to support any Lebanese presidential nominee

Hosseini said that Tehran will support none of the Lebanese presidential candidates.

Talking to reporters during his weekly press briefing, he added, "We emphasize consensus among various Lebanese personalities, parties and ethnic groups." Stressing that any foreign intervention in the Lebanese presidential elections would create new problems for the Lebanese nation, he underscored the need for participation of the Lebanese people in their own affairs.

Hoping for stability in Pakistan

On the latest developments in Pakistan, Hosseini expressed the hope that "holding a democratic election in that country would restore tranquility and stability". He also called for settlement of the differences peacefully.

Kidnapped Japanese student in good health

Asked about the latest condition of a Japanese student kidnapped in southeastern Iran, Hosseini said he is doing well with no health problems. Any new information on his condition will be announced, he added.

Nakamura, a 23-year-old university student, was kidnapped by a group of bandits near the city of Bam in southeastern province of Kerman on October 7, 2007.

... Payvand News - 11/25/07 ... --

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