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Iraq recalls controversial envoy to Turkey

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraq has withdrawn its ambassador to Turkey, a former intelligence official who may have met with suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden in 1998, diplomatic sources said Thursday.

The sources said Farouk Hijazi, Iraq's ambassador to Ankara, was being permanently recalled by Baghdad.

A U.S. news report in recent months quoted an unnamed U.S. official as saying Hijazi was believed to have met bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1998.

Iraq denied the report, calling it "rubbish."

Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said Baghdad has not had contact with bin Laden. "We don't know the man," he said.

Hijazi, who was a top Iraqi intelligence official before being posted to Ankara, recently returned to Ankara after being temporarily recalled following the September 11 attacks on the United States.


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