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Iranian Foreign Minister Says Prisoner Swap Is Close With US


Iran’s top diplomat says a prisoner swap is close with the US, though he hasn’t provided any evidence to support his claim

Dubai, United Arab Emirates — Iran’s top diplomat claimed on Sunday that a prisoner swap was close with the United States, although he offered no evidence to support his claim. US officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on his remarks.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian has made similar comments in the past about possible deals with the United States over frozen overseas assets and other issues that never materialized. Some of those remarks appeared aimed at bolstering domestic support amid mass protests challenging Iran’s theocracy and backing the country’s struggling rial currency.

However, in an interview with Iranian state television on Sunday, Amirabdollahian claimed that Iran had “reached an agreement in recent days regarding the exchange of prisoners between Iran and the United States”.

“If all goes well on the American side, I think we will see the prisoner exchange in the short term,” he added. He alleged that a document between Iran and the United States outlining the swap had been “indirectly signed and approved” since March 2022.

The US State Department and White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment Sunday from The Associated Press.

Iran has long taken prisoners with Western passports or ties to use in negotiations with foreign nations.

Currently, at least four US citizens are being held in Iranian prisons on widely disputed espionage charges.

The evidence against them was never made public. The detainees all have dual American-Iranian nationality, which Tehran does not recognize.

In recent days, however, long-time Iranian-American detainee Siamak Namazi was allowed to conduct an interview with CNN from Tehran’s infamous Evin prison, which would not have happened without the permission of security forces. .

Meanwhile, Ali Bagheri Kani, Iran’s deputy foreign minister who handled nuclear talks with world powers, visited Oman, a longtime interlocutor between Tehran and Washington, on Sunday.

Amirabdollahian’s comments also come after Iran and Saudi Arabia, with Chinese mediation, announced on Friday that they would restore diplomatic ties and reopen embassies after a seven-year relationship freeze.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.