Video: Curry on the state of Iran

updated 9/17/2009 4:47:30 PM ET 2009-09-17T20:47:30

The mothers of three Americans being detained in Iran implored Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a letter Thursday to bring their children with him to New York next week.

"Nothing would delight us more than to embrace our children and to express to you, in person, our profound gratitude for the kindness of the Iranian people," Cindy Hickey, Nora Shourd and Laura Fattal wrote.

They asked Ahmadinejad to bring Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal and Sarah Shourd and meet with the families during his expected trip to New York for next week's U.N. General Assembly meeting.

Representatives for the mothers said they brought the message, in both English and Farsi, to the Iranian Mission to the U.N. The mission declined to comment.

Their children, who range in age from 27 to 31, were taken into custody July 31 after entering Iran from Iraq without authorization. Their families say the three accidentally crossed a poorly marked border while hiking on vacation, but Iran's state media has said they ignored border guards' warnings.

Iranian officials have confirmed the Americans are being held on charges that include illegal entry, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Joanne Moore said by telephone Thursday.

She said Iranian authorities haven't provided any information on their whereabouts.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters in Washington that the Swiss, who represent U.S. interests in Iran, unsuccessfully pressed Iranian officials again Wednesday for access to the Americans. The United States and Iran have not had formal diplomatic relations since 1979.

"We believe that these three individuals, and others that are held by Iran, should all be returned without further delay," Crowley said, echoing an appeal Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made last month. Besides the three, she noted the case of Kian Tajbakhsh, an Iranian-American academic facing espionage and other charges. His friends and family have denied them.

Bauer and Sarah Shourd had been living in Damascus, Syria, where she was teaching English and he was writing freelance journalism pieces. Josh Fattal went to visit them after traveling overseas on a teaching fellowship.

All three are graduates of the University of California, Berkeley.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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