The annual U.N. General Assembly has generated sometimes powerful comments by world leaders on issues involving North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan and the flight of minority Muslims from Myanmar as more than 100 heads of state and government gather in New York.

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U.N. chief urges Iran's president to release detained 81-year-old Iranian American

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (Steven Governo / Associated Press)
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (Steven Governo / Associated Press)

During his meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged Rouhani to secure the release of detained Iranian American Baquer Namazi on humanitarian grounds, U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said Friday.  

Namazi is a retired official with the United Nations Children's Fund who has been imprisoned in Iran for nearly two years.

He traveled to Iran in 2015 to try to secure the release of his son, Siamak Namazi, a U.S. citizen and businessman who had been arrested four months earlier.  

Both were convicted of espionage last year and sentenced to 10 years in Tehran's Evin Prison. 

The 81-year-old Namazi's ailing health in prison has been a major cause for concern. Before his arrest, Namazi underwent triple bypass surgery. 

In addition to discussing Namazi's case in their meeting on Monday, Guterres and Rouhani also discussed continued implementation of Iran's 2015 nuclear agreement. 

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