June 9, 2007


U.S. may soon free 5 Iranians: Releasing the men held in Iraq on suspicion of aiding rebels would help smooth ties and might help win release of four U.S. citizens in Iran (Paul Richter and Alexandra Zavis, June 9, 2007, LA Times)

Five Iranians imprisoned by U.S. forces in Iraq since January will probably be released in the next few weeks, according to some U.S. and Iraqi officials, a development that could help ease months of escalating conflict between Washington and Tehran.

The Iranians, who were seized on suspicion of spying during a raid in Irbil, in northern Iraq, are up for a six-month review of their cases at the end of June, the officials said.

The officials emphasized that no decision had been made, but said the review offered an opportunity to resolve an issue that has been a point of contention between the Bush administration and the regime in Tehran, and also a source of tension with U.S. allies in the Iraqi government.

The Iranians' release would make it more likely that the recently started U.S.-Iranian dialogue on Iraq would continue. It could also encourage Iran to release four Iranian Americans, who hold citizenship in both countries, being held in Tehran on allegations of spying, Middle East experts said.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 9, 2007 12:01 AM
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