Iran Summons Swiss, Iraqi Diplomats

The Associated Press
Thursday, January 11, 2007; 6:57 AM

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran's foreign ministry on Thursday summoned the Iraqi and Swiss envoys to Tehran over the detention of five Iranian staffers at a diplomatic mission in northern Iraq, state-run television reported.

The broadcast said the ministry had summoned the ambassadors and "demanded an explanation" about the incident. Switzerland represents American interests in Iran, where there is no U.S. embassy.

The summons followed an early morning raid in Iraq, where multinational forces stormed the building of an Iranian consulate in the Kurdish-controlled northern city of Irbil, 220 miles from Baghdad.

The troops detained the five staffers and confiscated computers and documents, according to local Kurdish officials in Irbil.

The U.S. military issued a statement saying it had taken six people into custody in the region but did not mention a raid on the Iranian consulate. It declined further comment.

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini told state-run radio that the raid was "against a diplomatic mission" since the "presence of Iranian staffers in Irbil was legal."

Hosseini claimed the action by the U.S.-led coalition reflected "continuation of pressure" on Iran, aiming to "create tension" between Iraq and its neighbors.

Washington accuses Tehran of helping to incite the violence in Iraq by supporting the Shiite militias. Iran denies the allegations.

Last month, U.S. troops detained elsewhere in Iraq at least two Iranians and released two others who had diplomatic immunity.


© 2007 The Associated Press