Iran reopens border with Kurdistan as standoff with U.S. continues

SULAIMANIYAH, IRAQ — Iran opened its border with the Kurdistan region of Iraq again Monday after closing it for two weeks in retaliation for the U.S. military's arrest of an Iranian man in a Kurdistan hotel.

U.S. military leaders are adamant that the man, previously identified as Mahmoud Farhadi, is a senior leader of the elite Iranian Quds Force who coordinated the flow of arms and money to anti-U.S. insurgents in Iraq. They said there was no question that he's a senior Iranian agent and no question of releasing him. He was arrested Sept. 20.

Kurdish and Iranian leaders had maintained that he was a businessman who had traveled to Iraq with an invited trade delegation.

Kurdish officials have said that the loss of trade had idled 30,000 workers whose jobs depend on cross-border commerce, costing the region's economy $1 million a day.

A group of Kurdish Regional Government and political officials had traveled to Iran to negotiate the reopening, said Jamal Abdullah, a spokesman for Kurdistan regional government, in a telephone phone interview Monday.

"The delegation talked with the Iranian side and they reached a solution, which was reopening all the crossing points and to restoring the trade between the two sides to the way it was."

Several hundred trucks carrying goods move across the border each day.

Truck drivers and customs officials at the two main crossings confirmed that traffic was moving through as usual.

In violence in Baghdad, six people were killed and 22 wounded in bomb attacks across the city.

One of the deaths came when an improvised explosive device exploded near the Polish Embassy in Al Arasat neighborhood in downtown Baghdad around 2 p.m.

The Polish ambassador was wounded in a triple bomb attack on his convoy last week that left his driver dead, three security guards injured and all three trucks in the convoy badly damaged.

Also Monday, four mortar shells slammed into the Green Zone, Iraqi police said. No casualties were reported.

(Taha is a McClatchy special correspondent, as is Mohammed Al Dulaimy, who contributed to this story. Price writes for The (Raleigh) News & Observer.)