Iran's foreign ministry on Monday denied the creation of a joint commission with Libya to investigate the 1978 disappearance of a Lebanese Shiite cleric in which Tripoli is suspected of having a hand.
The case of Imam Mussa Sadr, founder of the Lebanese Shiite Amal movement, still envenoms relations between Beirut and Tripoli, which recently withdrew its ambassador from Lebanon amid a row with current Amal leader Nabih Berri.
"Such a commission does not exist," said ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi during a press conference in Tehran.
"The fate of Imam Mussa Sadr is of extreme importance for Lebanese Muslims and Iranians, as well as Iranian officials ... but (the report) that a joint Iran-Libya commission has been created, this is not correct," Asefi told reporters.
Last week press reports said Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi had agreed to a joint Iranian-Libyan probe into the 1978 disappearance of the Shiite cleric.
The London-published Arabic daily Asharq al-Awsat, quoting a source close to the Sadr family, said that Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, whose wife is Sadr's niece, had proposed a joint commission to Kadhafi.
Sadr and two companions vanished while on a trip to Libya, but the Libyans have always said it happened after they had left the country for Italy.
Asharq al-Awsat said an envoy of Khatami had pledged that Iran would publish the results of an inquiry, and clear Libya of blame if the evidence pointed in that direction.
Lebanese Shiites recently demanded that the case be taken to the international court in The Hague, and a visit to Libya by new Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri on November 19 which included a meeting with Kadhafi does not seem to have resolved matters -- TEHRAN (AFP)
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