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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 May, 2004, 08:40 GMT 09:40 UK
Belgian sisters return from Iran
Sarah Pourashemi
Younger sister Sarah, six, reads a newspaper story about her ordeal
Two girls at the centre of a lengthy international custody battle have returned to Belgium from Iran to be reunited with their mother.

Sarah Pourhashemi, six and Yasmine 15, say they were taken to Iran by their father after their parents' divorce.

They escaped and spent five months in the Belgian embassy in Tehran before a diplomatic deal enabled their return.

Reports in Iran and Belgium say an international arrest warrant for the girls' father Salami is to be lifted.

Custodian

Mr Pourhashemi took the two girls to Iran from Belgium in August 2003, after taking them for a week-long holiday in Greece.

A Belgian court issued an international warrant for the father's arrest a month later and ruled the mother, Zarah, to be the sole custodian of the children.

But Iranian law does not recognise dual nationality and said that, as Iranians, the girls should be in the custody of their father.

Their return follows a visit to Brussels on Tuesday by Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, who said that a final decision on their fate was imminent after successful negotiations between the two governments.

The Associated Press news agency said Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel was at Zaventem airport to greet the girls on their return on Thursday.

Details of the settlement were not announced.




SEE ALSO:
Belgian girls plead to leave Iran
03 Dec 03  |  Middle East
Country profile: Iran
15 Sep 03  |  Country profiles
Country profile: Belgium
31 Aug 03  |  Country profiles


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