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Iraq, Iran Free More POWs

From Associated Press

Iran and Iraq exchanged nearly 1,600 prisoners of war Sunday, bringing to more than 4,000 the number of soldiers freed in four days as part of a far-reaching exchange.

Iran released 1,500 Iraqi prisoners and Iraq freed 89 Iranians at a border crossing, Iran’s state-run television said.

The two countries fought a war from 1980 to 1988 in which about 1 million people were killed or wounded.

So far, about 3,800 Iraqis and 250 Iranians have been released under a deal that will free 5,592 Iraqi POWs in exchange for 380 Iranians held in Baghdad. The two countries exchanged about 70,000 POWs in 1990.

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The POW issue is among the thorniest blocking the normalization of ties.

In another sign of improved relations, a tourism official in Baghdad confirmed that the two nations reached an agreement to allow Iranians to visit Shiite Muslim holy sites in Iraq.


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