Reuters: Iran has complained to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon about the arrest by U.S. troops of five Iranian diplomats, who Washington says were helping militants in Iraq, state television reported on Saturday. TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran has complained to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon about the arrest by U.S. troops of five Iranian diplomats, who Washington says were helping militants in Iraq, state television reported on Saturday.
U.S. soldiers seized the men in a raid on an Iranian government office in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil on January 11, hours after President Bush pledged to crack down on the “flow of support” from Iran to Iraqi militants.
“Iran officially complained, by sending a letter to the U.N. Secretary-General, about America’s abduction of Iranian diplomats in Arbil,” state television said.
The letter said the arrests were illegal and called for a response from the U.N. Security Council.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran holds America responsible for the consequences of this act and demands the immediate release of the consulate officers,” the letter read, according to the television station.
Washington regularly accuses Iran of encouraging violence in Iraq. Tehran dismisses the charge, countering that U.S. forces are destabilizing the country.
Iran’s official news agency IRNA quoted the Iranian ambassador to Baghdad, Hassan Kazemi Qomi, as saying the Iraqi government had given assurances that the five diplomats would be released this week.
The arrests on January 11 were the second such detentions in Iraq in a month, and have further heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran, which are at loggerheads over Iran’s nuclear program.