The U.N.-mediated peace talks between Iran and Iraq will move to New York next week in what could be a prelude to the withdrawal of forces from the war zone, Iran's foreign minister said Tuesday.
The minister, Ali Akbar Velayati, said U.N. mediator Jan Eliasson asked the two delegations to come to New York City on Sept. 22 during a 20-minute face-to-face meeting Tuesday between the two enemies."We accepted," Velayati said. "We hope that in New York we could finalize the timetable which starts with the withdrawal of the forces to the internationally recognized borders."
Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz of Iraq, the first to emerge after the formal session, declined to speak to reporters.
In another development, Iran released 72 wounded or sick Iraqi prisoners of war who were flown home under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the organization reported.
The Red Cross said the repatriation of the 72 Iraqis Monday was "the result of a unilateral decision by the Iranian authorities and was not connected with the release" of all POWs as called for under the U.N. cease-fire resolution.
Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency said Iran now has released 775 Iraqi war prisoners since the U.N.-sponsored cease-fire went into effect Aug. 20.
Red Cross figures show 613 Iranian prisoners have been repatriated.
The organization has registered 50,182 POWs in Iranian camps and 19,284 in Iraqi camps.