Iran says all prisoners to be swapped with Iraq

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran and Iraq exchanged nearly 1,600 prisoners of war Sunday, bringing to more than 4,000 the number of soldiers freed in four days as part of a far-reaching exchange.
Iran released 1,500 Iraqi prisoners and Iraq freed 89 Iranians at a border crossing, Iran’s state-run television said.
That brought to 4,051 — 3,800 Iraqis and 258 Iranians — the number of prisoners released since Thursday as part of what Iran’s foreign minister described as a deal to swap all prisoners.
Up to 30,000 prisoners are thought to be held by both sides from their 1980-88 war in which 1 million people were killed or wounded.
In another sign of improved relations, a tourism official in Baghdad confirmed that the two countries also reached an agreement to allow Iranian pilgrims to visit holy sites in Iraq.
Iran’s foreign minister, Kamal Kharrazi, was quoted by Iranian television late Saturday as saying that families of those killed in the war would be the first group allowed to visit.
Until the Iran-Iraq war, Iranians, who are predominantly Shiite Muslim, were the largest group of pilgrims visiting the Shiite shrines in the Iraqi cities of Nejaf and Karbala. Now most visitors to these sites are Indians, Pakistanis and Lebanese.
Iran and Iraq have occasionally traded prisoners but the exchange over the four days represents the largest by far.