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Iranian FM Discusses Security in Iraqi Kurdistan


Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki has visited Iraqi Kurdistan to discuss security concerns in the semi-autonomous region.

Officials say Mottaki and Kurdish President Masoud Barzani discussed the Iranian shelling of Iraqi border areas, as well as concerns about an outlawed Kurdish group accused of attacking Iranian targets from northern Iraq.

The group, the Kurdistan Free Life Party, is an offshoot of the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party, which is fighting for Kurdish autonomy in southeastern Turkey.

Kurdish regional authorities deny supporting or even tolerating the groups.

During his visit, Mottaki opened consulates in both Irbil and Sulaymaniyah. He is the most senior Iranian official to visit the region.

In Irbil, Mottaki called for the immediate release of Iranian citizens held by the U.S. military in Iraq since January 2007.

Iran says the five Iranians detained in Irbil are diplomats. The U.S. military says they are tied to an Iranian Revolutionary Guard group that provides money and weapons to insurgents in Iraq.

On Tuesday, Mottaki met with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad. He said there is no need for more talks with the United States about Iraq, because of Iraq's improved security conditions.

Tehran has opposed a U.S.-Iraqi security agreement allowing American troops to remain in Iraq through 2011. Iran has said the deal undermines Iraqi sovereignty.

Washington has accused Iran of trying to derail the security agreement, and of posing a major threat to Iraq's long-term stability. Iran, like Iraq a majority Shi'ite nation, denies it is causing unrest in Iraq.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters

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