Feb 7, 2007

Iran Alleges U.S. Provocation

Iranian officials in Iraq on Tuesday accused U.S. forces of collaborating with Iraqi soldiers in what they described as the kidnapping of an Iranian diplomat in downtown Baghdad.

Four Iraqis allegedly involved in the kidnapping Sunday evening of diplomat Jalal Sharafi were arrested and interrogated by Iraqi police, according to two Iranian officials in Baghdad. The detained Iraqis, who wore military uniforms and carried military identification cards, were "not under the Ministry of Defense control, they were directly connected to the American control," said an official at the Iranian Embassy who spoke on condition of anonymity. ...

The Iranian officials condemned the disappearance of Sharafi, whom they identified as a second secretary at the embassy in Baghdad, and said his abduction was part of the Bush administration's effort to counter Iranian influence in Iraq.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran considers it a responsibility of U.S. forces in Iraq to protect members of the diplomatic community, including Iranian diplomats, and will hold them responsible for obtaining the release of the abducted Iranian diplomat," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini told the Islamic Republic News Agency. ...

Meanwhile, U.S. officials said they are investigating a report that a member of the Iraqi parliament had been convicted in the 1983 bombing of the U.S. and French embassies in Kuwait.

"We are actively investigating these serious allegations and continue to be in close contact with the government of Iraq to pursue this case," said Lou Fintor, a U.S. Embassy spokesman in Baghdad. He said he had no further details.

Citing "U.S. military intelligence," CNN reported Tuesday that Jamal Jaafar Mohammed, a member of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Dawa party, was sentenced to death for his alleged role in the bombings, which killed five people and injured more than 80.

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