WASHINGTON — As the family of retired FBI Agent Robert Levinson of Broward County marked the fourth anniversary of his disappearance, Iran and the United States tiptoed toward a collaboration that offers the best hope yet for bringing him home alive.
Four days after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced that Levinson is alive, Tehran and Washington traded carefully worded diplomatic messages Tuesday. Both sides described finding Levinson, a father of seven with a history of health problems, as a humanitarian issue.
Iran continued to deny ever capturing Levinson, but, in the most promising sign of cooperation since his disappearance, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Iran would cooperate "on a humanitarian basis." He called on the United States to provide more information about Levinson.
"If there is reliable information, relaying it to Iranian officials can turn this into a collective effort," he said.
In Washington, the State Department said it was gratified that Iran was willing to help find Levinson.
Levinson, a private investigator living in Coral Springs and working for corporate clients, disappeared in 2007 from the Iranian island of Kish. His family said he was investigating cigarette smuggling at the time.