Iranian couple cleared for US as 'exception' after transit ordeal

The Hague (AFP) - An elderly Iranian couple stranded at Amsterdam's airport for five days have been cleared to continue their journey to the US as an "exception", Dutch national carrier KLM said Thursday.

Named by Dutch media as Abdolghasem Eshaghi, 68 and his wife Kobra Alizadeh, 58, the couple has been stranded in transit at Schiphol airport since Saturday.

They were en route from Tehran to the United States when US President Donald Trump's executive order blocking entry to citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, was enacted without warning.

"After repeated requests to US Customs and Border Protection authorities an exception was finally made for these people," said KLM spokeswoman Manel Vrijenhoek.

"They'll be leaving for America on a KLM flight later today," Vrijenhoek told AFP.

She said it was not clear why they have been exempted from the ban. A spokeswoman for the US embassy in The Hague said they could not comment on individual cases.

The couple were on their way to visit their daughter in Washington DC, where she works and studies computer science, a relative told AFP from Tehran, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"They haven't seen her for five years and are very excited now that they can continue travelling," the relative said.

The couple were two of six Iranians stranded in transit Saturday after Trump's order left them in no-man's land at Schiphol before they could catch connecting flights to different cities in the United States.

Dutch daily newspaper De Volkskrant said the couple were given a hotel room on Wednesday evening after spending four nights sleeping in the airport, as their lawyers worked behind the scenes to resolve the issue.

Eshaghi told the paper the couple will stay at Schiphol "until such time we can travel to the US or our money runs out."

"My plane ticket says a trip from Tehran to the US. Not a trip from Tehran to Tehran via Schiphol."

The four other Iranians including a PhD student and a medical doctor in the meantime have flown back to Tehran after they too became stuck in Amsterdam.