Iranian FM arrives in Beirut to promote second stage of prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hizbullah
Iranian Foreign Minister, Kamal Kharazi, on Thursday started a two-day visit to Beirut as part of the preparations for the second stage of the prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hizbullah.
According to the deal between the two sides, brokered by German mediator Ernst Uhrlau, two committees are to be set up to try to trace four missing Iranian diplomats, and to seek new information on missing Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad.
Iran's involvement will allow Tehran to convey information about Arad to Israel through Hizbullah, while officially denying doing so, Israeli media reoprts have recently speculated.
Upon his arrival to Lebanon, the Iranian minister said his country supported the negotiations related to the deal between Hizbullah and Israel, but did not have a direct role in them. Kharazi also hoped that Arad's fate would be determined because it would have an impact on the future of other detainees.
Newspapers in Beirut said Thursday Iran is demanding from Lebanon an official investigation into the fate of the four Iranian diplomats who went missing on a Christian militia checkpoint during Israel's 1982 invasion.
The Beirut media said the demand would be presented by Kharazi, who is to hold talks with top Lebanese officials and Hizbullah's Secretary-General, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.
Kharazi is accompanied by family members of the missing diplomats.
One Beirut press report said Kharazi carries a Tehran government documented research that asserts the four missing diplomats were transported in the early 1990s to Israel via a then occupied enclave in south Lebanon.
All four diplomats are still alive and have been seen and talked to by Palestinian prisoners in an Israeli jail, the Iranian report states.
Another report by As Safir said Kharazi is to convey a request that Lebanese authorities, Hizbullah and the German swap sponsors obtain from Israel during the second stage of the swap operation solid and final information of the fate and whereabouts of the missing diplomats.
Should Israel come up with solid information that the Iranians are not in Israeli jails, Tehran will ask the Lebanese authorities to carry out an investigation with the Lebanese Forces civil war militia about their fate. (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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