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21/02/2011Turkish leader hints at role in freeing German journalists
Turkish President Abdullah Gul hinted Monday he was instrumental in Iran's decision to free two German journalists at the weekend.
"We would not talk about the favours we do... Certainly I made a request (to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad), I spoke to him. I am grateful he did not let me down," Gul told reporters in televised remarks.
Gul paid a visit to Iran last week, during which he met with Ahmadinejad.
Turkish media reports said Gul received a positive response from the Iranian leader when he pressed for the release of the journalists upon a request by his German counterpart Christian Wulff ahead of his trip to Iran.
The two reporters were freed Saturday after a four-month detention over an interview with the son and lawyer of a woman facing death by stoning for adultery.
An Iranian court gave both 20 months in jail for acting against "national security" but then commuted the sentences to 50,000-dollar fines.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle travelled personally to Iran to retrieve the pair.
Turkey's ties with Iran have notably improved since the current Islamist-rooted government came to power in 2002.
Ankara insists for a diplomatic solution to the row over Tehran's nuclear programme and last month hosted talks between the Islamic republic and world powers, but the meeting ended with no progress.
© 2011 AFP
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