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Ambassador Says Detained Iranians in Iraq Will Be Released Soon

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Iran's ambassador to Iraq says he has been told that five Iranians detained by U.S. forces last week will be released soon.

The Iranian diplomat told reporters Thursday that he received the news from Iraq's foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari.

Ambassador Hassan Kazimi said the detention of Iranians on Iraqi soil was an insult to Iraq's government. He said other countries will reconsider sending diplomats to Iraq.

Iraqi and U.S. officials have not confirmed that the Iranians are to be released.

On January 11, the U.S. military raided an Iranian office in Irbil, northern Iraq, detaining five Iranians it said were involved in arming Iraqi insurgents.

Iraq said the building is an Iranian liaison office in the process of becoming a consulate.

Iran said the five Iranians are diplomats who were engaged in legal activity.

In an interview with The New York Times on January 12, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said President Bush had made the decision to raid the Iranian office.

The U.S. accuses Iran of meddling in Iraq and providing support for Shi'ite insurgents.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP. 

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