Iraq has approved visits by the wives of two imprisoned Americans, but U.S. efforts to have a Polish diplomat see them remain stymied, the State Department said Monday.
Iraq has notified Poland, intermediary for the United States in dealing with Baghdad, that visas will be issued as soon as the wives get to Amman, Jordan, State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said.
“This obviously is a hopeful sign,” he said.
However, the U.S. official criticized Iraq’s refusal to permit Ryszard Krystosik, a Polish diplomat, to visit the two jailed Americans.
He said that one of the Americans, David Daliberti, 41, of Jacksonville, Fla., was experiencing chest pains and that he and William Barloon, 39, of New Hampton, Iowa, should be released immediately in a humanitarian action.
In Kuwait, Barloon’s wife, Linda, said she was notified Monday that the State Department had obtained clearance for the visit, but refused to say when she would make the trip.
She said it would not be in the next two days, because she has to wait for her mother to arrive from the United States to stay with her children - Bill, 13, Brian 11, Becky, 9.
“I am very pleased that the Iraqi government has granted us the visas. I’m very much looking forward to the opportunity of seeing my husband,” Linda Barloon told The Associated Press. “I’m hopeful to be allowed to meet with Iraqi officials.”’
Asked if she would meet with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, she said: “If the opportunity presents itself, I am ready.”
She said she would take letters from the children and friends to her husband as well as clothes, books and toiletry items.
Daliberti’s wife, Kathy, plans to meet with Linda Barloon on Friday, in Amman, a family spokesman said. She is not releasing any further information on her travel plans.
Poland is handling the dispute with Iraq over the two Americans, who were sentenced to eight years in prison after crossing the border from Kuwait five weeks ago in what the U.S. government called a harmless mistake.
The United States broke relations with Iraq in 1991 to protest Iraq’s attempt to annex Kuwait by force.
Krystosik has tried to see the Americans daily. Last week, he was informed that his weekly visits had been cut back to every two weeks.
The Polish diplomat will accompany the wives throughout their stay in Iraq, and they will be housed in the old U.S. Embassy, which is under Polish control.
The Polish diplomat has been the only outside contact with the two imprisoned Americans.