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US ‘encouraged’ by Iran promise to free hikers - Clinton

‘We hope that we will see a positive outcome’ :

US: The United States is “encouraged” by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s promise Tuesday that two jailed American hikers will be freed in the next couple of days, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

“We have followed this very closely and we are encouraged by what the Iranian government has said today,” she said. “We obviously hope that we will see a positive outcome from what appears to be a decision by the government.”

Ahmadinejad told the Washington Post and NBC News in separate interviews Tuesday that Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, convicted last month of espionage and illegal entry, would be freed in a matter of days.

“I am helping to arrange for their release in a couple of days so they will be able to return home. This is, of course, going to be a unilateral humanitarian gesture,” Ahmadinejad told The Washington Post.

“It is a unilateral pardon” of the hikers, the Iranian leader said.

In a separate interview with US network NBC News, Ahmadinejad said Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal would be released “in two days” but their lawyer Masoud Shafii told AFP they would be freed only when bail, set at $500,000 for each of the men, had been paid. Bauer and Fattal, who were both sentenced to eight years in prison last month, were arrested near the mountainous Iraq-Iran border in July 31, 2009, along with a third hiker, Sarah Shourd.

Shourd was granted bail on humanitarian and medical grounds and allowed to leave the country in September last year. AFP

 

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