Reuters: Iran said on Monday it was working with Iraqi officials on securing the release of five Iranians arrested by U.S. forces in Iraq last week and accused of running arms and money to Iraqi militants. TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran said on Monday it was working with Iraqi officials on securing the release of five Iranians arrested by U.S. forces in Iraq last week and accused of running arms and money to Iraqi militants.
Tehran has said the five Iranians, who were seized from an Iranian government office in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Arbil on Thursday, were diplomats and has demanded their release.
“We are trying to release the diplomats and sorting out the issue with the Iraqi government. This was an attack on the Iraqi government as well,” government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham told a weekly news conference.
Iranian Intelligence Minister Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei held talks with Shirwan al-Waili, Iraq’s state secretary for national security, on Sunday evening. Waili said afterwards he hoped the issue would be resolved soon.
“This is against all the international immunity laws and political standards and was a terrorist act,” Elham said of the raid on the Iranian office on Thursday.
“America should give up on its illegal acts. We consider this our right to follow up the case and we will follow it up in due time,” he said without giving details of what Iran would do.
The U.S. military said the five men had ties to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard-Qods Force, which it said was known for providing funds, weapons and training to “extremist groups” seeking to destabilize the government of Iraq.
Tehran denies backing the insurgency and blames U.S. troops for the violence and for stoking tensions between Iraq’s Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims.
When President Bush said last week he would send more U.S. troops to Iraq, he also pledged to interrupt a “flow of support” to insurgents from Iran. Other U.S. officials have also said Washington would do more to contain Iran.
Washington also accuses Iran of seeking to make nuclear bombs under cover of a civilian atomic program, a charge Tehran denies.