BAGHDAD, (Reuters) – The United States has released one of about 10 Iranian prisoners it is holding in Iraq, U.S. forces and the Iranian embassy said on Wednesday.
The embassy named the prisoner as Hayder Alami, while U.S. forces gave his name as Hadir Alwai Mohammed. Both said the prisoner had been held since July 2004 and was freed on Tuesday.
The U.S. detention of Iranians in Iraq is one of the issues dividing the two countries. The United States freed nine Iranian prisoners on Nov. 9 and said at the time that it had held 20.
A U.S. military spokeswoman said U.S. forces were still holding “approximately 10” Iranians after Tuesday’s release.
Five of the Iranians that U.S. forces have held have been a particular bone of contention, because Tehran said they were diplomats while Washington said they aided militants. Two of them were among those freed on Nov. 9.
The United States has accused Iran of providing Shi’ite militia in Iraq with training and weapons to kill U.S. troops, although it says attacks have declined over the last few months. Tehran denies the charge.
The two countries were due to hold talks in Baghdad this week on cooperating over Iraqi security, but the meeting was delayed, with Washington citing a scheduling conflict.