Iran Calls for Release of Diplomats in Occupied Iraq

TEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- Iran has accused the United States of kidnapping five of its citizens who were working as consular officials in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil.

The US has denied the men were diplomats and continues to hold them, even though the Iraqi government has also said they had diplomatic status.

Iran’s ambassador to Iraq called last week’s arrests “an insult to the Iraqi people.” He urged the US to come up with evidence that they were helping Iraqi resistance fighters or let the Iranians go.

Hassan Kazemi Qomi said the kidnapped men were clearly diplomats engaged in legitimate tasks. “These actions are against international conventions which guarantee diplomatic immunity and they are also against the framework of the agreement between Iraq and the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

One of Iraq’s most powerful Shiite politicians, Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, also condemned the arrests as an attack on Iraq’s sovereignty.

President George W. Bush has recently accused Iran of destabilizing its neighbor and warned that the U.S. would not stand idly by. Tehran denies the claims and has demanded to see proof.

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