French officials hopeful that Iran will release academic

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Officials in Paris were guardedly optimistic Friday that Iran will allow a French academic who has been blocked in the country for more than two months to leave soon.

Stephane Dudoignon was arrested in southeastern Iran on Jan. 30 and has since been prevented from leaving the Iranian capital, Tehran.

A French Foreign Ministry official said Iran's ambassador to Paris had "quite encouraging comments" about the possibility that Dudoignon would be allowed to leave Iran shortly.

"We hope a solution can be found quickly to fix this administrative problem," spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei said.

Dudoignon, a historian with France's prestigious CNRS Institute, has said he was detained over his research into Iran's Sunni minority.

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