Iran Reopens Two Consulates in Iraq’s Kurdish Region

A031190644.jpgIran reopened two consulates on Tuesday in the cities of Erbil and Sulaimaniyah in Iraq’s northern Kurdish region, which were closed after US troops raided the one in Erbil and abducted five Iranians in January. Iraqi Kurdish regional Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and the Iranian ambassador to Baghdad Hassan Kazemi Qomi inaugurated the consulate office in Erbil, NINA reported on Tuesday.

“The two consulates will offer facilities for citizens of the region wishing to visit Iran and develop trade relations between the two countries,” Barzani was quoted as saying in his speech during the reopening ceremony.

“We used to have two consulates in Erbil and Sulaimaniyah but unfortunately the US forces arrested five personnel from our consulate in Erbil who are still under custody,” said Qomi, who termed the US arrests as “illegal and violation to the Iraqi sovereignty.”

Later in the day, a US military spokesman said the American military will release nine Iranians detained in recent months in Iraq, including two of the five captured in January in Erbil.

“It is our intent to release nine Iranians, currently in custody, in the near future,” US military spokesman Rear Admiral Gregory Smith, director of the Multi-National Force-Iraq’s communications division, told a news conference in Baghdad’s Green Zone.

“Two of the nine were detained in Erbil in January of this year,” he said, adding that the other seven were arrested at various occasions in others areas of Iraq.

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