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Mothers Urge Iran's President to Bring US Hikers Home

The mothers of the three American hikers detained in Iran are appealing to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to bring their children home on his expected trip to the United States.

In a letter to Mr. Ahmadinejad Thursday, the mothers of Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Joshua Fattal say the their children are physically ill and so devoid of hope they are contemplating a hunger strike.

The mothers call on the Iranian president to ignore political issues and board a plane for New York with their children.

President Ahmadinejad has applied for a visa to visit the United States for a month-long U.N. nuclear conference that begins Monday. U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said Wednesday the U.S. has the responsibility to accept his request.

The three Americans were arrested in Iran on July 31. Their families say they strayed across the border from Iraq's Kurdistan region during a hiking trip.

All three are being held in Tehran's Evin prison, but have not been formally charged. Iran has said the hikers will be put on trial, but has not given a date.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with their families for the second time Wednesday and said U.S. officials are working hard to obtain their release.

Also Wednesday, retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu urged Iran to release the three Americans in a statement quoted by the hikers' families.

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