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Copyright 2004 Jerusalem Post
January 29

HEADLINE: Iranian officials: Ron Arad is not in Iran


The missing Israeli airman Ron Arad is not in Iran, the deputy speaker of Iran's parliament, Ali Akbar Mohtashami, reiterated Wednesday.

Heading a parliamentary delegation, Mohtashami came to Beirut to participate in an official reception of Lebanese and other Arab prisoners that Israel has undertaken to release as part of an exchange due to take place Thursday.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran has declared officially, and more than once, that the Israeli pilot Ron Arad is not in Iran, and that Iran has no information about his fate," Mohtashami said when he arrived at Beirut airport.

There have been persistent rumors that Arad, whose plane was shot down over Lebanon in 1986, was transferred to Iran.

Speaking on Hizbullah's al-Manar television on Wednesday deputy Hizbullah leader Sheikh Naim Kassem denied that Ron Arad is being held in Syria or Iran.

"It is natural that he is in Lebanon where he disappeared" said Sheikh Kassem.

Under the terms of the exchange, Israel is expected to release more prisoners at an unspecified later date in return for information on the fate of Arad.

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