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World

AFP
January 8, 2019

US military veteran held in Iran: report

World

AFP
Tue, Jan 08, 2019

Washington: A US military veteran is being held in Iran where he was visiting his girlfriend, a report said Tuesday, posing a fresh issue in the two countries´ thorny relations.

Michael R. White, 46, from Imperial Beach, California, never boarded a return flight via Dubai in July, his mother told The New York Times.

The US State Department said it was "aware of reports" of the detention but declined details, citing privacy considerations.

"We have no higher priority than the safety and security of US citizens abroad," a State Department spokesperson said.

White´s mother, Joanne White, told the Times that her son had visited Iran "five or six times" to see an Iranian woman described as his girlfriend.

She said that she learned from the State Department that he was imprisoned in Iran on unclear charges.

She said she requested that Switzerland, which represents US interests in Iran in the absence of diplomatic relations, pay a consular visit to her son.

White would join at least three other US citizens, two of them of Iranian descent, in being detained in the country.

Relations between the two countries deteriorated sharply last year when US President Donald Trump withdrew from an international accord on ending Iran´s nuclear program and imposed sweeping sanctions.