Iran and Iraq have agreed to increase the number of prisoners of war being released under their Persian Gulf War peace initiative from 1,000 on each side each day to 8,000, the Iranian news agency IRNA said Sunday.
The International Committee of the Red Cross, which is insisting on interviewing each prisoner to make certain that he wants to return home, said in Geneva that it is sending more staff to Iran and Iraq to allow the prisoner exchange to speed up.
But it declined to estimate how many prisoners a day it would now be able to process.
Both countries, impatient to see their people free after eight years of devastating war and two years of inconclusive diplomacy, urged the Red Cross on Saturday to send more staff. The exchange started Friday and so far 3,000 Iranians and 2,000 Iraqis have been freed.
The Red Cross has registered 50,000 Iranian prisoners of war and 20,000 Iraqis, but it estimates that there could be up to 15,000 more Iranian prisoners and 20,000 more Iraqis.