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Tehran Summons European Envoys Over Arrest Of Iranian Diplomat In Germany

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi

Iran's Foreign Ministry summoned the French and Belgian ambassadors and Germany's chargé d'affaires to protest the arrest of an Iranian diplomat in Germany, Iranian news agencies reported on July 4.

Belgian authorities have accused Assadollah Assadi, who was detained on July 1 on a European arrest warrant, of being part of a plot to set off explosives at a meeting of the National Council of Resistance of Iran in Paris, and have demanded his extradition.

Austria said on July 3 that it was stripping Assadi, a counselor at the Iranian Embassy, of his diplomatic immunity because of his suspected involvement in the alleged bomb plot.

Assadi was detained after Belgium authorities reported finding powerful explosives in the car of a couple with Iranian roots.

On July 4, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz asked visiting Iranian President Hassan Rohani for "full clarification" of the matter. Rohani did not comment on the case.

Tehran has dismissed accusations it was behind the plot. On July 4, the Iranian Foreign Ministry accused the People's Mujahedin of Iran, an opposition group in Paris, of being behind the plot.

After summoning the European ambassadors in Tehran, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told them that Assadi had nothing to do with the incident and should be released immediately in light of his diplomatic immunity, the ministry said.

Araqchi added the arrest was a plot to damage Iran-European ties at a time when Tehran is striving to save its nuclear deal with world powers after Washington's withdrawal from the accord.

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Europe to take a harsher stance against Iran in light of the diplomat's arrest, saying the plot is proof that Iran is "financing terrorism against you on your soil."

With reporting by Reuters, dpa, and AFP