Iraq President Protests US Arrest of Iran Diplomats

A0145580.jpgTEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- Iraq’s president on Monday protested the arrest by US forces in Iraq of two Iranian diplomats who had been invited to Iraq by Talabani.

Iran said the diplomats seized by the US military had been invited by the Iraqi government and warned that the move would ‘provoke unpleasant repercussions’.

‘Two Iranian diplomats were detained by the Americans,’ said Hiwa Othman, media adviser for Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

‘The president is unhappy. He is talking to the Americans about it as we speak. The diplomats came to Iraq at the invitation of the president,’ Othman told Reuters. He said he was not aware if they had met with Talabani.

Talabani, a Kurd, traveled to Iran last month in the latest of a series of high-level contacts between the two neighbors.

The US State Department said ‘a small number’ of Iranian diplomats were among those initially detained in the raids over some Iranian travelers, but that they were turned over to Iraqi authorities and released.

Several other Iranians remained in custody, it said.

‘Our actions (to release the diplomats) were in no way dictated by pressure from the Iraqi government or any party in the government,’ it said in a statement. ‘Our actions were instead in accordance with our international legal obligations.’

Othman and an official in the government said they were not aware the diplomats had been freed.

In Tehran, the Foreign Ministry had summoned the Swiss ambassador to Tehran to discuss the arrests. The Swiss embassy represents US interests in Iran since diplomatic relations between Tehran and Washington were cut after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

‘This move is not compatible with any international regulations and will provoke unpleasant repercussions,’ Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said.

A US military spokesman in Baghdad declined to comment and referred all questions to the Pentagon. There was no immediate comment from the Pentagon.

The Times said that one of the raids took place in the Baghdad compound of SCIRI head Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, one of Iraq’s most powerful Shiite leaders, who traveled to Washington three weeks ago to meet President George W. Bush.

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