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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 August, 2004, 12:55 GMT 13:55 UK
Iraqi delegation arrives in Iran

By Miranda Eeles
BBC correspondent in Iran

Barham Saleh
Saleh will try to improve relations with a key neighbour
The Iraqi deputy prime minister has arrived in the Iranian capital, Tehran, a day later than planned.

Barham Saleh is part of a high-level political delegation that will meet top officials, according to Iran's official news agency, Irna.

Reports say the three-day trip is intended to pave the way for a later visit by Iraq's interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.

Mr Saleh is accompanied by several Iraqi ministers, Irna reports.

Tensions

Many see the visit as a fence-building mission after a period of worsening relations.

Worshippers at the Imam Ali shrine in Najaf
Iran has been accused of interfering in Najaf
Tensions have been aggravated by the kidnapping of an Iranian diplomat earlier this month.

Fereydun Jahani was seized by a group calling itself the Islamic Army in Iraq while on his way to take up a new post as consul in the city of Karbala.

Some members of the interim government in Baghdad have accused Tehran of interfering in Iraqi affairs and of causing trouble in the city of Najaf.

Iran denies all the charges and has always stated it is striving for a stable and secure Iraq.

On Saturday, President Khatami said he hoped the expected visit of Iraqi interim prime minister Mr Allawi would coincide with Mr Jahani's release.



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