Iran Says It Is Holding Talks On Prisoner Swap With US

July 16, 2021Coffee or Die
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei casting his vote for 2017 presidential and local election. Wikimedia Commons photo.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei casting his vote for 2017 presidential and local election. Wikimedia Commons photo.

This article was originally published July 13, 2021, by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 

Iran said on July 13 that it is holding talks on prisoner exchanges with the United States, a few days after a U.S. official said Washington was working to release its detained citizens.

The U.S. envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, said last week that U.S. President Joe Biden insists on the release of all Americans detained in Iran and will not accept a “partial deal.”

Malley called the release of Americans detained in the Islamic republic a “priority” and said that negotiations with Iran have “made some progress,” NBC News reported.

Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei confirmed the talks and said Tehran was calling for the release of all Iranian prisoners.

“These talks are ongoing and if any acceptable result is achieved, it will be announced,” Rabiei was quoted as saying by the semiofficial ISNA news agency.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on July 12 that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had “put forth a plan to swap all Iranian and American prisoners,” the official government news agency IRNA reported.

Iran is holding a number of dual nationals, including several Iranian-Americans amid accusations by rights activists and others that Tehran is using the detainees to extract concessions from other countries.

Iran and the United States have exchanged prisoners in the past, including in June 2020, when Washington freed Iranian scientist Majid Taheri, detained for violating U.S. sanctions against Iran, as Tehran set free U.S. Navy veteran Michael White who had been sentenced to 13 years in prison last year for allegedly insulting Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and posting private information online.

Iran’s talks with world powers on reviving a 2015 nuclear deal, which former U.S. President Donald Trump quit in 2018, have remained stalled after six rounds.

The deal imposed restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. Biden has promised to rejoin the deal if Iran returns to full compliance.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said on June 12 that Washington would not impose a deadline on a seventh round of talks, and only Tehran could determine when talks would resume.

Copyright (c)2021 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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