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UPDATED: 11:15, January 13, 2007
Moscow says US abuses mandate in Iraq
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The arrest of five Iranian consulate staff members in Iraq by the U.S. forces was an abuse of the mandate of the Multi-National Force, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said here on Friday.

The "illegitimate actions mean an open abuse of the mandate that was issued to country members of the Multi-National Forces in Iraq by the UN Security Council, an indispensable part of which is assistance to ensuring the guarding and safety of diplomatic missions in this country," Kamynin was quoted by the Itar-Tass news agency as saying.

U.S. forces raided the Iranian consulate in Iraq's northern city of Arbil and arrested five of its staff members, Iran's official IRNA news agency reported on Thursday.

"Five consulate personnel have been detained; documents and computers kept in it have been seized. The operation was allegedly aimed at intercepting the support of terrorist activity," Kamynin said.

"We believe such high-profile accusations should be backed by incontrovertible and solid proofs. But it's absolutely unacceptable that servicemen storm and seize a consulate of a foreign state in the territory of another foreign state," he said.

"It's grossest violation of the Vienna Convention of Consular Relations. It is also unclear how it conforms to the statement by the United States about Washington's respect for the sovereignty of Iraq, whose authorities, in accordance with the above Convention, should ensure the inviolability of consulates in their territory," Kamynin said.

"We consider it necessary to immediately settle this situation on the basis of the international law," the diplomat said.

Source: Xinhua

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