Page last updated at 22:51 GMT, Saturday, 2 January 2010

Saudi Arabia asks Iran to free Bin Laden daughter

Osama bin Laden (file pic)
Osama Bin Laden is wanted by the US over the 9/11 attacks

Saudi Arabia has urged Iran to allow a daughter of Osama Bin Laden to leave the country after the Iranians acknowledged she was in Tehran.

The Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, said his government was in talks with Iran over freeing the fugitive al-Qaeda leader's daughter.

Iman Bin Laden, 17, is said to have recently escaped from a compound where she and others were under house arrest.

She took refuge in the Saudi embassy in Tehran.

Iman and five siblings have been held under house arrest by Iran since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Saudi newspaper Asharq al-Awsat reported last month.

The newspaper, which is owned by a cousin of Prince Saud, says the embassy has issued her with a travel permit to allow her to return to Saudi Arabia.

It also quoted Zaina Bin Laden, the wife of Bin Laden's fourth son Omar, as saying that Bin Laden children and Bin Laden's wife Khayriyah were living in a residential compound on the outskirts of Tehran.

The "Bin Laden children are living in adjacent houses with gardens, they have a laptop but no internet access, and there is a swimming pool in the compound", Zaina Bin Laden was quoted as saying.

Both she and her husband Omar, who live in Qatar, had spoken to one of the children by telephone, the paper said, adding that Zaina hoped to visit Tehran.

'Humanitarian issue'

Speaking in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, Prince Faisal said his country considered the matter to be a "humanitarian issue".

"We are negotiating with the Iranian government on this basis," he added.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said last week that he had been informed that Bin Laden's daughter Iman was staying in Tehran.

He said it was "unclear" how she she had got there but she could leave if she obtained the right travel documents.

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran have long been marked by rivalry and suspicion, due in part to sectarian tensions between Sunni and Shia Muslims, analysts say.

Osama Bin Laden, accused of 9/11 and other attacks, was born into a wealthy Saudi family but was expelled from the country in 1991 because of his anti-government activities.

Omar Bin Laden was quoted by Asharq al-Awsat as saying his relatives in Tehran had nothing to do with "accusations of terrorism made against" his father.

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France24 SAUDI ARABIA: Riyadh urges Iran to allow bin Laden's daughter home - 22 hrs ago
Trade Arabia Bin Laden daughter 'must be free to quit Iran' - 24 hrs ago
Irish Times Iran urged to allow bin Laden child to leave - 37 hrs ago
Reuters India Bin Laden daughter should be free to quit Iran: Saudi Arabia - 40 hrs ago

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