TEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- The five Iranian diplomats who were kidnapped during a raid by the US troops on Iranian consulate general in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil are still incarcerated and diplomatic efforts by the Iranian and Iraqi officials have not yet turned any fruits, an informed source said.
The source told FNA that the Iranian mission staffers were supposed to be released Friday night, but Americans still refrain from doing so.
Iraqi officials, including foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari, had earlier stated that the kidnapped Iranian diplomats were in the detention of the US troops in Iraq.
In the early hours of Thursday morning, US forces raided the Iranian consulate general in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil, detaining at least five employees.
According to local Kurdish officials, at around 3 a.m. US troops disarmed the guards outside the consulate, broke into the building and confiscated computers and documents while military helicopters were circling overhead. Despite Americans’ allegations, the liaison office had diplomatic protection and functioned as a consulate general issuing travel documents and carrying out other consular tasks. An Iranian flag flying over the building was hauled down during the raid.
Earlier during a phone conversation with his Iranian counterpart on Friday night, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari described the attack on the Iranian mission by the US troops as unacceptable, and expressed regret over the happening of similar incidents in the past.
“The foreign ministry, government and leaders of Iraq have been following up on the issue through the US officials since the early hours after the incident took place and we hope that the necessary measures would soon be adopted for the release of the Iranian consulate staffers who are now in the detention of the US troops,” Zebari continued.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, for his part, told his Iraqi counterpart that Tehran is awaiting the immediate release of the five diplomats from US detention.
He also called for an immediate halt of the United States’ adventurist and illegal measures in Iraq.
Mottaki reminded that the invasion of the Iranian consulate general and arresting of the mission staffers there have been a blatant violation of all international rules and diplomat regulations, including the Vienna Convention while it is also a clear intervention in the brotherly ties of Iran and Iraq.
He also stressed that such actions are in direct contradiction to the United States’ claims about the establishment of stability and tranquility in Iraq.
The official called for serious efforts by the Iraqi government to release the Iranian mission staffers.