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Copyright 1995 The Jerusalem Post
The Jerusalem Post

February 23, 1995



BONN - Iran tried to locate missing airman Ron Arad at the request of Germany but failed to find him, the Iranian Embassy said yesterday.

The embassy denied a German newspaper report that Iran and Israel held secret negotiations about Arad, whose plane was shot down on a bombing mission over Lebanon in October 1986. Israel believes Arad is being held in Iran.

In a statement faxed to reporters, the Iranian Embassy did acknowledge that German Chancellor Helmut Kohl had asked Iran to look for Arad.

"On the basis of a request by Chancellor Kohl, [Iranian] President Hashemi Rafsanjani gave an order that there be a search for Ron Arad. The search was unsuccessful," the embassy said.

No details were given of where, how or when the search was conducted.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper reported Tuesday that Israeli and Iranian negotiators have been talking about Arad from separate rooms at the German Chancellery, with German mediators going back and forth between them.

The Iranian Embassy said that part of the story is wrong: "There were neither direct nor indirect discussions between Iranian and Israeli diplomats."

Israel on Tuesday confirmed that Germany had been talking with Iran about Arad but said the discussions had produced no information about where he is or whether he is alive.

State-run Teheran Television, monitored in Cyprus, said in a commentary that "the Iranian nation and the Islamic world are wholly accustomed to such lies."

Teheran Television suggested that the German report aimed to paint Iran in a conciliatory light, and show that it had given up its staunch opposition to talks with Israel.

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