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Iran urges U.S. to release diplomats as first sign of 'change'

ARBIL, Iraq, Feb. 12 (Mehr News Agency) - Iran's chief diplomat urged the new U.S. administration to release the Iranian diplomats held in Iraq as the first step to realize "change" promises by President Barack Obama during his election campaign.

"American officials should release Iranian diplomat as the first move toward realizing the 'change slogan' by the new U.S. administration," said Manouchehr Mottaki as he reopened the Iranian consulate in Arbil in a ceremony on Thursday.

Families of Iranian diplomats arrested by U.S. troops in Iraq (file photo May 2007)

U.S. forces broke into the Iranian consulate in Iraq's Kurdish city of Arbil on Jan. 11, 2007, and detained three Iranian diplomats.

"This place reminds us of good and bad memories," said Mottaki in the presence of Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, an ethnic Kurd.

The Iranian foreign minister said the sad news came when the U.S. troops attacked the Iranian consulate and "kidnapped" Iranian diplomats, the Mehr News Agency correspondent from Arbil reported.

Mottaki asked Iraqi officials to make serious efforts for an immediate release of Iranian nationals.

Zebari said Iraq would use all its attempts to help free Iranian diplomats. He added that his government has written letters to U.S. officials asking them to free the diplomats.

... Payvand News - 02/12/09 ... --

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