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Iran could help release abducted Russians in Iraq - official

TEHRAN, June 25 (RIA Novosti) - Tehran is prepared to assist in releasing four Russian diplomats abducted in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, three weeks ago, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said Sunday.

Russian diplomat Vitaly Titov was killed during the attack on an embassy car in the capital of Iraq on June 3. The kidnappers seized Fyodor Zaitsev, third secretary of the embassy, and also diplomats Rinat Agliulin, Anatoly Smirnov and Oleg Fedoseyev.

Asefi said Iran was denouncing the kidnapping of the Russian diplomats in Iraq.

According to Asefi, if the Russian side applies to Iran with a respective request, the Islamic Republic is prepared to meddle into the situation and take steps, as far as its possibilities can allow it, to release the Russian diplomats.

Asefi said there was a large number of extremist and terrorist groups operating in Iraq, and the U.S. presence in that country had not helped stabilize the situation.

Mikhail Kamynin, the official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said Wednesday that the Mujahideen Shura Council, a group linked to the al-Qaeda cell in Iraq that claimed responsibility for the abduction, had sentenced the diplomats to death.

Asefi expressed the hope that the abducted Russian diplomats would be released as soon as possible.

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