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Ahmadinejad Says U.S. Arrest of Iranians A 'Misstep'


Mahmud Ahmadinejad (file photo) (epa) January 15, 2007 -- Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has said the arrest of five Iranians by U.S. forces in Iraq was a "misstep" by the United States meant to cover up U.S. failure in Iraq.

The five were arrested on January 11 in the northern Iraqi town of Irbil and the U.S. military has accused them of links to an Iranian Revolutionary Guard group that provides weapons to Iraqi insurgents.

Iran denies the charge and demands the five be released.

U.S. President George W. Bush has accused Iran of trying to destabilize Iraq. That accusation was repeated by Vice President Dick Cheney on U.S. television on January 14.

"I think the message that the president sent clearly is that we don't want them [the Iranians] doing what they can to try to destabilize the situation in Iraq," Cheney said.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari also called for the release of the five Iranians in what he said was a legitimate diplomatic mission. Speaking on CNN, Zebari said Iraq has to keep good relations with its neighbors in the region.

(AP, Reuters)
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