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US Seeks Iran's Help Finding Missing American

  • Reuters

File - Undated handout photo provided by the family of Robert Levinson shows retired-FBI agent, who went missing on the Iranian island of Kish in March 2007.

File - Undated handout photo provided by the family of Robert Levinson shows retired-FBI agent, who went missing on the Iranian island of Kish in March 2007.

The United States on Tuesday asked Iran for help in finding an American who has been missing there for more than six years, in a hint of the potential for a thaw between the two adversaries after a landmark deal on Tehran's nuclear program.

The White House called for Iran to cooperate in locating retired Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Robert Levinson, who disappeared during a business trip to Iran in March 2007.

"We welcome the assistance of our international partners in this investigation, and we respectfully ask the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to assist us in securing Mr. Levinson's health, welfare, and safe return," the White House said in a statement.

The request comes days after world powers reached a deal with Iran to curb that nation's nuclear program in exchange for the easing some of the crippling sanctions that the global community has imposed on Teheran. The Obama administration pushed for the deal as a first step aimed at buying time to negotiate a comprehensive agreement.

The United States and other countries had long feared Iran was on course to develop a nuclear weapon, and although Iran maintained its efforts were strictly peaceful, it resisted international controls, which led to sanctions.

The accord reached over the weekend marked a clear turn in a U.S. relationship with Iran that has been adversarial since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Levinson, who retired from the FBI in 1998, disappeared while on a trip to Iran's Kish Island in the Persian Gulf. Levinson's family refers to him as a hostage and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in 2011 there were indications he was being held in southwest Asia.

Last year, the FBI offered a rare $1 million reward for any information that could lead to his safe return. Iran's government previously said it had no information about Levinson's whereabouts.

Secretary of State John Kerry met with Levinson's family in March and urged anyone with information about his whereabouts to come forward. The White House said at the time that finding Levinson is "a high priority" for the United States.
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