Iran seeks more U.S. information on ex-FBI agent

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 22, 2011 10:47 AM

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran urged the United States on Tuesday to provide it with more information on a former FBI agent who vanished in the Islamic state in 2007, adding it would "make an effort" to find him.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last week Washington had seen recent indications that Robert Levinson was being held in southwest Asia and appealed to Iran to help find him, despite past frustration that Tehran had ignored U.S. pleas for information about him.

"We will continue our efforts based on a humanitarian approach. We believe it will be helpful for a collective effort if reliable information on this person is passed on to Iranian officials," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters.

Tehran has long said it has no information on Levinson, and Mehmanparast said Clinton's statement, issued nearly four years after Levinson went missing while on a business trip to Iran's southern Kish island, confirmed he was not in Iran.

"What has been said in this (Clinton's) statement, confirms that this person is not in Iran and although we searched for information on him ... no clues to his whereabouts were found," he said.

Washington cut diplomatic relations with Tehran shortly after Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution and the two countries are at odds over a range of issues, including Iran's disputed nuclear work.

The United States says Iran wants to develop nuclear weapons, a charge denied by Tehran which says its goal is building atomic power plants.

Levinson's disappearance has attracted considerable attention in Washington. Clinton met with his wife in May 2009 and reassured her that the U.S. government was still seeking information from Iran about his whereabouts. The FBI has also said it will continue to investigate the matter.

(Reporting by Hossein Jaseb, Writing by Zahra Hosseinian, editing by Paul Taylor)