Iran said on Tuesday that the four Iranian diplomats kidnapped in Lebanon in 1982 are still alive despite recent reports about their death, the official IRNA news agency reported.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini, when asked to comment on reports that the diplomats had been killed, said "such claims are part of efforts to cover up reality and conceal the keys to the case."
The four Iranian diplomats were kidnapped by the Lebanese Forces, a rightist Christian paramilitary group, in northern Beirut in 1982 when Israeli military forces occupied the city.
Iran and the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah have repeatedly accused Israel of holding the four Iranians after receiving them from the Lebanese Forces.
In an exclusive interview with Iran's Persian-language daily Jam-e-Jam, Lebanese Falange commander Samir Jaja said that "based on reliable reports" the four Iranian diplomats had been killed as a result of an incident, whose nature he did not precisely know.
Hosseini, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, said the Lebanese government and Hezbollah have been cooperating with Iran in the case but "unfortunately efforts have not borne results due to the delaying tactics by the Zionist regime."
Hosseini hoped that the Lebanese government will double its efforts to relieve the concerns of the families of the abducted, IRNA said.