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A long-awaited exchange of Iranian and Iraqi prisoners of war from the 1980-1988 gulf war failed to take place Saturday for what Red Cross officials said were "technical reasons."

Officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross said they hoped the exchange would go ahead in the next few days.A Iraqi Defense Ministry newspaper had said that Iran and Iraq would exchange 100 POWs every two days starting Saturday under Red Cross supervision.

Diplomats in Tehran say Iran is holding up to 30,000 Iraqis and Iran says Baghdad still holds at least 5,000 Iranians. But diplomats in Baghdad say Iraq holds a much smaller number of Iranian prisoners than Tehran reported.