AFP: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Friday urged Iran to free two remaining US hikers as her spokesman said she had agreed with Oman’s Sultan Qaboos to work closely together for their release.
WASHINGTON (AFP) — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Friday urged Iran to free two remaining US hikers as her spokesman said she had agreed with Oman’s Sultan Qaboos to work closely together for their release.
Clinton told reporters it would “be a very significant humanitarian gesture” for Tehran to release hikers Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal after it freed Sarah Shourd, who was arrested with them a year ago on the border with Iraq.
The chief US diplomat then telephoned Sultan Qaboos to thank him for his country’s role in obtaining Shourd’s release, her spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters later.
“And they agreed to stay engaged and to work cooperatively to do everything possible to bring about the release of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal,” Crowley added.
“There’s been very significant and regular dialogue… between the United States and Oman, as well as the United States and Switzerland, on this case,” he added.
Clinton told reporters earlier that Washington was “very grateful” to Switzerland, which represents US interests in Iran, and Oman, “which played a very active role in reaching out and working with the Iranians,” Clinton said.
“We are absolutely committed to the return of Josh and Shane. These two young men have been held without cause now for more than a year,” the chief US diplomat said.
“It would be a very significant humanitarian gesture for the Iranians to release them as well,” she said.
“So we continue reaching out to the many countries around the world who have supported us in our efforts on their behalf,” Clinton said.
Iranian authorities arrested the trio of hikers on July 31, 2009 after they strayed into Iran from Iraq, accusing them of “spying and illegally entering the country.”
The three said they mistakenly entered Iran after getting lost while hiking in Iraqi Kurdistan.