Iran asks U.N. help to free its hostages

Aug. 8, 2012 at 8:24 AM
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TEHRAN, Aug. 8 (UPI) -- Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has called on the United Nations to do what's necessary to free Iranians taken hostage in Syria and Libya.

In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Salehi expressed concern about the kidnapped Iranians and asked Ban to help Iran secure their release, Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency reported Wednesday.

"The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran calls for the immediate release of its abducted nationals and cautions that using the hostages as human shields is a violation of the international law and human rights," Salehi said in his letter to Ban.

Seven Iranians were kidnapped last week as they were visiting Benghazi, Libya. On Saturday, insurgents in Syria kidnapped 48 Iranians Tehran said were pilgrims but rebels said were members of the Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

Salehi discussed his talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on the Syrian situation with reporters Wednesday, Iran's government-supported Press TV reported.

"We [will] exhaust all means to secure the release of the Iranian abductees in Syria," Salehi said.

Salehi also said Iran was willing to host talks between the Syrian government and opposition parties to try to end the unrest in the country that has been going on since March 2011.

"I have offered the proposal to my Turkish counterpart to prepare the ground for several Syrian opposition members who are in Turkey to travel to Iran for talks," he said.

Salehi said Deputy Foreign Minister for Consular Affairs Hassan Qashqavi will travel to Libya soon to work on securing the release of those abducted.

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