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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 April 2007, 22:33 GMT 23:33 UK
US 'will keep Iranian detainees'
Map of Iraq
The US is to continue holding five Iranians captured in Iraq despite protests from Tehran, US media said.

The fate of the five sparked disagreement, with the White House overruling the State Department on the issue, the Washington Post reported.

Administration officials have not commented on the report.

The US says the men seized in a January raid on Iran's consulate in Irbil are linked to the Revolutionary Guard. Iran says they are diplomats.

The US accuses the Revolutionary Guard of providing support to insurgents.


The issue has further raised tension between the US and Iran, which has demanded that the men be released.

The decision was made at a high-level meeting on Tuesday, the Washington Post said.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reportedly argued that the five Iranians be released because they were "no longer useful".

But Vice President Dick Cheney's office said their capture signalled that Iranian activities were monitored and their operatives at risk of detention, the daily said.

The meeting concluded that the five men should remain in custody and undergo the same six-monthly review used for other foreign detainees held in Iraq, the newspaper quoted officials as saying.

The next such review is reported to be in July.

The US accuses Iran of providing arms, money and military training to Shia insurgents in Iraq.

Some commentators have suggested Iran's arrest of 15 UK navy personnel in the Gulf was connected to the Irbil detentions, although Iranian officials have dismissed any link.

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