AND SO IT BEGINS...
Iranian diplomats arrested by US forces
By Mariam Karouny in Baghdad
Published: 26 December 2006
The Iraqi President, Jalal Talabani, has objected to the arrest by American forces in Iraq of two Iranian diplomats. US officials say that they were seized during raids against Iranians suspected of planning attacks on Iraqi security forces.
Iran said that the diplomats taken by the US military had been invited by the Iraqi government and warned that the move would "provoke unpleasant repercussions".
"The President is unhappy," said Hiwa Othman, Mr Talabani's spokesman. "He is talking to the Americans about it as we speak. The diplomats came to Iraq at the invitation of the President." He said he was not aware if they had met with Mr Talabani.
Mr Talabani, a Kurd, travelled to Iran last month in the latest of a series of high-level contacts between the two neighbours.
The US said that "a small number" of Iranian diplomats were among those initially detained in the raids, but that they were turned over to Iraqi authorities and released.Several other Iranians remained in custody.
"Our actions [to release the diplomats] were in no way dictated by pressure from the Iraqi government or any party in the government," it added in the statement.REUTERS