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President Defends Quiet Diplomacy

President Tarja Halonen has issued a strong defence of the Foreign Ministry's silence about its efforts to secure the release of three Finnish men being held by Iran earlier this week.

President Halonen was informed on Sunday when the Foreign Ministry received word of the incident. The Prime Minister was not informed that the three men were being held until several days later. The three were released later Wednesday afternoon.

Halonen said that it was absolutely certain that the safe release of the three required the exercise of quiet diplomacy.

Prime Minister Vanhanen has publicly been critical of the fact that he was not informed of the incident for days.

Return delayed

The men involved in the incident were expected to return to Dubai on Thursday, where they work for Nokia Siemens Networks, but were delayed by bad weather in the Persian Gulf.

Late Thursday they were reported to be on Abu Musa Island and it was uncertain if they would be returning to Dubai directly or via Iran.

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