( AFP ) - Iran will open a consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil on Tuesday, Tehran's third such office in the war-ravaged country, a senior Kurdish official told AFP on Monday.
"The Iranian consulate will be opened tomorrow officially," said Falah Mustafa, director of foreign relations in the Kurdistan regional government, the autonomous Kurdish administration of northern Iraq.
There was no immediate confirmation from Tehran's mission in Baghdad.
But on Sunday, Iran's ISNA news agency quoted Hassan Kazemi Qomi, the ambassador, as confirming the planned opening of the consulate in Arbil, the the capital of the Kurdish administration of Iraq.
On January 11, US forces raided an office in Arbil and detained five Iranians for allegedly aiding the anti-American insurgency. Tehran says those held are diplomats and that they were seized in a consular building.
The office has been closed ever since.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said the raid had taken place at a "liaison office that offered consular services."
The decision to open the consulate in northern Iraq comes after Iran closed its border with the region for two weeks in late September in protest at the detention of another Iranian by the US military.
The Americans claim that Mahmoud Farhadi is an officer in the Quds Force, the covert operations arm of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards which is accused by US commanders of helping Shiite militias in Iraq's sectarian conflict.
But both Iran and the regional Kurdish government say Farhadi, who is still in US custody, is a businessman who was a member of a commercial delegation invited to visit Sulaimaniyah.
Tehran reopened the frontier after Iran said it would open two consulates in Arbil and Sulaimaniyah, Kurdish officials had said. It was also agreed that Tehran would allow Iraq to open two consulates in the Iranian cities of Kermanshah and Orumiyeh.
Shiite Iran already has two consulates in the Iraqi Shiite cities of Karbala and Basra.