The mothers of three
American hikers detained in Iran for months were permitted to visit them for the first time, but departed the country Friday without their children, dpa reported.
There was hope that the visit would have led to the release of the hikers, who were taken into custody after straying across the border while hiking in Iraq's Kurdish region. They have been held in Tehran's Evin prison ever since.
The mothers arrived at Tehran IKI airport appearing disappointed that they had not secured the release of Shane Bauer, 27, Sarah Shourd, 31, and Josh Fattal, 27.
The possibility of a release grew following reports from Baghdad that two Iranian prisoners had been freed. The Iranians were originally arrested by the US military and later handed over to the Iraqi government.
The three mothers were allowed to meet with their children twice on Thursday and Friday in the Esteqlal hotel in northern Tehran. It was their first meeting in almost 11 months.
The US government has called for the immediate release of the Americans. US State Department spokesman PJ Crowley told reporters on Friday that the United States was "grateful" for the visit but added: "We certainly continue to call upon the government of Iran to release them on humanitarian grounds."
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said the decision to allow the mothers to come to Tehran was based solely on humanitarian, and not political, reasons.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said the hikers entered Iran without legal permission, committing a border violation. He noted that every country has harsh punishments for such infractions.
Ahmadinejad said Iran would be ready to release the three hikers in exchange for Iranian prisoners in the United States.