By Saud al-Zahed
Al Arabiya, 28 June 2012 - Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi was briefly arrested by the Cypriot anti-terrorism forces after he arrived at Nicosia International Airport on Tuesday. The arrest was made for Salehi’s violation of a European Union ban on travels by Iranian officials involved in the country’s nuclear program, several Turkish and Cypriot media reported on Thursday.
The Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozaku Markulli intervened and Salehi was later released, according to Daily Kos.
Quoting Greek Cypriot media, TRT Türk reported that the scandal caused temporary tension, but Cyprus then issued an official apology to Iran, citing “misunderstanding” and “mishandling” of the situation by airport police.
Salehi was a former head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran when he was added to the list of “unwanted persons,” but his name was taken out in 2010 when he became Iran’s foreign minister.
Foreign Minister Salehi had flown to Cyprus to hold talks with Cypriot President Christofias and the Cypriot Foreign Minister to discuss improving trade and economic relations between the two countries and the possible improvement of EU-Iranian relations after Cyprus, which has good relations with Iran, assumes the EU Presidency on July 1.
Cypriot newspapers reported that the meetings were held as scheduled.
Iranian newspapers reported the Salehi’s visit to Cyprus and his meetings with the Cypriot officials, but there was no mention of the incident. However, it was revealed by the Iranian parliamentarian Ismail Kawthari.
The Parliament then asked Salehi for an explanation. According to Kawthari, such an incident is part of the “psychological war” launched against his country.
Western countries fear that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon, but the Islamic state denies and insists that its nuclear program is aimed for peaceful purposes.