Iraq to Release 200 Iranian POWs
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ Iraq has asked the International Red Cross to arrange for the repatriation of 200 sick and wounded Iranian prisoners of war, a Red Cross official said.
Arnold Luethold, a deputy of the head of the Red Cross delegation, told The Associated Press that Iraqi officials have asked them to prepare for the release of the Iranian POWs and return them to Iran.
″We think this is a humanitarian gesture which could help to resume the POW exchange,″ he said.
Luethold said preparations are underway to charter a plane in Switzerland to take the prisoners from Iraq to Iran.
The Red Cross official confirmed that the Iraqis have not asked for any Iraqi POWs in exchange for the Iranians.
Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein last week decided to release a number of Iranian prisoners equivalent to the number of participants in an Islamic conference here that ended Friday.
The Islamic scholars appealed to him to make a goodwill gesture.
Diplomatic sources here believe that the move could pave the way to resume the exchange of wounded POWs which was halted Nov. 27 after the two countries exchanged 155 Iraqis and 56 Iranians
The two countries on Aug. 20 began a cease-fire in their 8-year-old war.