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German Foreign Minister Travels To Iran After German Journalists Released


Jens Koch (back right) and Marcus Hellwig (back left) meet relatives in Tabriz in December 2010
Germany's foreign minister traveled to Iran after Tehran agreed to free two German journalists, in what news agencies describe as a rare visit by a high-ranking Western diplomat.

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle thanked his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Salehi, for his "commitment to relation between our countries."

On February 19, the two Germans -- Marcus Hellwig and Jens Koch -- were freed after an Iranian court threw out their 20-month prison sentence. Instead, they were forced to each pay a $50,000 fine.

The pair work for "Bild am Sonntag" and were arrested in October in the northwestern city of Tabriz for interviewing the son and lawyer of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a woman sentenced to death for adultery..

They were charged as spies and for having links to Iranians in exile.

compiled from agency reports