Iraq: Detained Iranians had gov't authorization

The five Iranians detained by US-led forces were working in a liaison office that is in the process of being upgraded to a consulate, the Iraqi foreign minister said Friday, while Teheran condemned the raid and urged Iraq to push for the release of those in custody. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said those detained Thursday in the Kurdish-controlled northern city of Irbil were employees in an office that had government approval and had been there for 10 years. "We are now in the process of changing these offices to consulates," he said. "The request to open offices was approved by the foreign ministry and has been raised to the Cabinet to approve. It is not a new office. This liaison office has been there for a long time." He also echoed concerns that the United States and Iran were dragging Iraq into their fight.