News



DATE=4/6/98
TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
NUMBER=2-229274
TITLE=IRAN/IRAQ (L ONLY-CQ)
BYLINE=DOUGLAS ROBERTS
DATELINE=CAIRO
CONTENT=
VOICED AT: 

INTRO:  IRAN AND IRAQ HAVE RELEASED MORE PRISONERS (MONDAY) FROM 
THEIR WAR OF THE 1980'S, AS PART OF THE LARGEST PRISONER EXCHANGE
IN NEARLY EIGHT YEARS.  MIDDLE EAST CORRESPONDENT DOUGLAS ROBERTS
REPORTS ON THE TENTATIVE WARMING IN RELATIONS BETWEEN TEHRAN AND 
BAGHDAD, A DECADE AFTER THE END OF THEIR BLOODY CONFLICT.

TEXT:  THE PRISONER SWAP BEGAN THURSDAY, AND SMALL GROUPS OF 
IRANIAN AND IRAQI P-O-W'S HAVE BEEN EXCHANGED DAILY SINCE THEN AT
A BORDER POST NORTHEAST OF BAGHDAD, UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF THE 
INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS.

TEHRAN HAS AGREED TO RELEASE A TOTAL OF JUST OVER 55-HUNDRED 
(5,500) IRAQI PRISONERS IN EXCHANGE FOR 380 IRANIANS.  IT IS THE 
FIRST MAJOR SWAP SINCE A TOTAL OF SOME 70-THOUSAND P-O-W'S WERE 
SET FREE IN 1990 -- TWO YEARS AFTER THE WAR ENDED IN A BLOODY 
STALEMATE, WITH BOTH SIDES ACCEPTING A U-N-SPONSORED TRUCE.

THE EIGHT-YEAR-LONG WAR WAS ONE OF THE COSTLIEST THIRD WORLD 
CONFLICTS THIS CENTURY, WITH WELL OVER ONE-MILLION LIVES LOST AND
COUNTLESS DAMAGE DONE TO TOWNS, CITIES AND ECONOMIC INSTALLATIONS
ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BORDER.

THE LATEST PRISONER EXCHANGE WAS WORKED OUT DURING A VISIT TO 
TEHRAN LAST JANUARY BY IRAQ'S FOREIGN MINISTER, MOHAMMED SAID 
AL-SAHAAF.  THAT VISIT CAME JUST ONE MONTH AFTER IRAQ SENT A 
HIGH-LEVEL DELEGATION TO ATTEND AN ISLAMIC SUMMIT CONFERENCE IN 
THE IRANIAN CAPITAL.

MR. SAHAAF AND HIS IRANIAN COUNTERPART KAMAL KHARRAZI AGREED TO 
ESTABLISH BILATERAL COMMITTEES TO DISCUSS THE P-O-W EXCHANGES, AS
WELL AS OTHER HUMANITARIAN ISSUES AND TRADE BETWEEN THE TWO 
STATES.

OVER THE WEEKEND, MR. KHARRAZI SAID BAGHDAD AND TEHRAN HAVE 
AGREED TO RELEASE ALL REMAINING PRISONERS.  BUT JUST HOW MANY 
P-O-W'S ARE STILL HELD IS IN DISPUTE.

BAGHDAD CLAIMS IT  NO  LONGER HOLDS ANY IRANIANS, WHILE TEHRAN 
SAYS SIX-TO-TEN-THOUSAND OF ITS CITIZENS ARE STILL IN IRAQI 
HANDS.  IRAQ SAYS IRAN IS STILL HOLDING CLOSE TO 20-THOUSAND 
IRAQI P-O-W'S.  BUT IRAN SAYS MANY OF THEM DO NOT WANT TO RETURN 
TO IRAQ.

//REST OPT// IN HIS WEEKEND REMARKS, FOREIGN MINISTER KHARRAZI 
REPORTED ANOTHER NEW BILATERAL AGREEMENT WITH BAGHDAD THAT WILL 
ALLOW IRANIANS TO RESUME PILGRIMAGES TO THE SHIITE MUSLIM HOLY 
CITIES OF NAJAF AND KARBALA IN SOUTHERN IRAQ.

MR. KHARRAZI SAID THE FIRST IRANIANS TO MAKE THE PILGRIMAGE WILL 
BE WAR VETERANS AND RELATIVES OF IRANIAN SOLDIERS KILLED DURING 
THE WAR. (SIGNED) 

NEB/DBR/PCF

06-Apr-98 11:10 AM EDT (1510 UTC)
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Source: Voice of America
.