Iran says cannot confirm arrest of three Americans

TEHRAN Wed Aug 5, 2009 6:12am EDT

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TEHRAN (Reuters) - An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Wednesday he could not confirm whether three Americans had been detained by Iran.

"There have been contradictory and vague reports on their arrest in Iran. I cannot confirm or deny the arrests until further investigation," Hassan Qashqavi told state radio.

On Tuesday, a local security official in Iran's western Kurdistan province, Iraj Hassanzadeh, told state-run al-Alam television that three Americans had been detained there.

"They are definitely Americans," he said. "They were detained four days ago. We don't know whether they are tourists or not. We are questioning them."

A senior security official in Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region said on Saturday that three tourists had strayed across northern Iraq's border with Iran near Ahmed Awa and been detained.

The same day a source told al Alam, Iran's Arabic-language television channel, that the three, believed to be two men and a woman, had been arrested after entering Iran.

The party had arrived in the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniya on Wednesday.

There is no clear border demarcation between Iran and Iraq at Ahmed Awa.

(Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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