Iraq announced Saturday it will release 25 Iranian prisoners of war in accordance with a U.N. cease-fire resolution, the official Iraqi News Agency said.

The agency, monitored in Nicosia, quoted an unidentified spokesman of the Iraqi Foreign Ministry as saying the unilateral decision was relayed to the International Committee of the Red Cross.The spokesman was quoted as saying the Red Cross was asked to dispatch a delegation to Iraq "to take the neccessary measures to repatriate the POWs."

On Thursday, Iran rejected an Iraqi plan for repatriating prisoners of war from the eight-year Persian Gulf conflict and said Iraq must accept the U.N. plan for ending the war before prisoner exchanges could start.

The Iraqi spokesman was quoted as saying with the latest batch, the total number of sick and aging Iranian prisoners released by Iraq "for purely humanitarian reasons, with no political conditions attached" reached 645.

He called on Iran to reciprocate, adding Iran "would be held fully responsible for any delay in ending the sufferings of the POWs and their families," the news agency reported.