Reuters: Iran has still not received a reply to a request to visit five Iranians held by U.S. forces in Iraq, an official at Iran’s Baghdad embassy was quoted as saying on Saturday by Iran’s ISNA news agency. TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran has still not received a reply to a request to visit five Iranians held by U.S. forces in Iraq, an official at Iran’s Baghdad embassy was quoted as saying on Saturday by Iran’s ISNA news agency.
Washington accuses Iran of stoking violence in Iraq and in January detained five men it says were linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and backing militants. Iran insists they are diplomats, wants them freed and has requested access.
“There has been no reply to Iran’s request, but a U.N representative and the (Iranian) embassy are trying to carry out Iran’s legal right for our consulate to meet them and make sure they are alright to ease the concerns of their families,” the official at the Iranian embassy in Iraq said.
“In this regard, the Iraqi officials have repeated their previous comments and emphasize they will follow (the issue), but there have not been any results so far.”
The U.S. military has said it is considering the Iranian request. An International Committee of the Red Cross team has visited the detained Iranians twice, a U.S. military official said on Friday.
The unnamed Iranian official in Iraq suggested he was aware of only one such meeting. “If there has been another meeting recently, they haven’t informed us about it,” he said.
The five Iranians were detained in the northern city of Arbil, capital of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan.
An aide to Massoud Barzani, Kurdistan’s president, said the Iranians, who worked in the office of Tehran’s representative in Arbil, were “not conducting acts against the United States’ presence in Iraq or against the Iraqi government”.
“We are keen that no acts of that kind are carried out, from any direction, in Iraqi Kurdistan,” Fouad Hussein told Reuters.
Hussein said U.S. forces had been after a senior official in Iran’s powerful Supreme National Security Council, which helps formulate policy on key issues, such as the nuclear file.
“The Americans arrested the wrong people,” Hussein said.
“Confirmed information available to us shows the raid … targeted … the vice president of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council,” Hussein said.
“(The Iranian official) was on a visit to Kurdistan at the behest of President Jalal Talabani, and he had a meeting with Barzani in Arbil hours before the raid,” Hussein said.
(Additional reporting by Shamal Aqrawi in Arbil)