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Iran Rejects US Accusations of Terrorist Support in Iraq

14 January 2007

Iran is demanding release of five people seized by U.S. troops who recently raided an Iranian office in northern Iraq. U.S. military officials say they suspect the group was supporting groups blamed for bloodshed in Iraq. Jim Randle reports from Baghdad.

An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Mohammad Ali Hosseini, condemned an attack by U.S.-led forces against an Iranian office Thursday in Irbil, Iraq. He called for the immediate release of the men detained in the raid.

He told journalists in Teheran that the American forces in Iraq should pay compensation for the damage to the building, and never repeat this kind of action. He said their job was basically consular.

But U.S. officials say the building was not a consulate and did not have diplomatic protection.

The men were detained by U.S.-led forces because they are suspected of involvement with an Iranian Revolutionary Guard faction that funds and arms insurgents in Iraq.

In a note to reporters, U.S. officials said they will continue to disrupt efforts by Iran to support groups involved in violence.

The Iranian spokesman also attacked the new U.S. policy in Iraq announced this week by President Bush. The policy seeks to isolate Iran and Syria, which the U.S. has repeatedly accused of fueling attacks in Iraq.

Hosseini said Washington is stubbornly sticking to the wrong approach, which he says will not bring security to the region.

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