October 11, 2010 / 1:16 PM / 9 years ago

Oman in talks with Iran to help free Americans

MUSCAT (Reuters) - Oman is negotiating with Iran for the release of two Americans held in Tehran for more than a year on suspicion of spying, an Omani foreign ministry official said on Monday.

Oman played a role in the release last month of Sarah Shourd, a third American who was held for illegally crossing into Iran from Iraq.

She was arrested with her fiance, Shane Bauer, and their friend Josh Fattal, who are both still being held. Washington says the three were tourists who strayed near the border while hiking. Iran says they were spying.

“We are very active in the negotiations for the release of the two Americans, on humanitarian grounds, after the release of Sarah Shourd,” the official from Oman’s foreign ministry told Reuters on the condition of anonymity.

“We are hopeful they will be released,” he said.

The official’s remarks came during a one-day visit to Oman by Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.

After her release on September 14, Shourd spent several days in Muscat before flying back to the United States.

Reporting by Saleh al-Shaibany; Editing by Peter Graff

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