US releases Iranian diplomats in Iraq

TEHRAN - The US has released five Iranians it arrested in 2007 in Iraq, Iranian and US officials said Thursday.

Iran’s ambassador in Baghdad, Hassan Kazemi-Qmi, said the five were handed over to the Iraqi government, Iran’s Fars news agency reported Thursday.

Iran said the five were diplomats and had diplomatic immunity, but the US called them “foreign intelligence agents”, who were working to destabilise Iraq and target foreign troops there.

They were detained in the northern city of Irbil in January 2007.

US State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters in Washington that the US still had concerns about the diplomats who had connections to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, but had to hand them over to Iraq under a security agreement between the two countries.

“This is something that we agreed to with the Iraqi government, and so we are maintaining our obligation to them,” he said.

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