Monday, October 2, 2023

Iran Says Serious about Prisoner Swap with US

Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi says Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s proposal to exchange prisoners with the United States is serious, but it’s nothing new.

In a Wednesday statement, Mousavi said the Iranian foreign ministry, within the framework of its responsibilities, is prepared to take action on the swap of individuals convicted and imprisoned in Iran by the country’s Judiciary on specific charges.

He underlined that the foreign ministry would do so in exchange for both the release of all Iranians jailed in the United States on illegal charges of violating sanctions, and the granting of nolle prosequis to those detained in various countries on baseless charges of violating the US’ illegal sanctions or under Washington’s pressure.

Mousavi also slammed as “hasty” the US officials’ reaction to FM Zarif’s proposal and their call for the one-sided release of all US prisoners.

The reaction shows they lack a proper understanding of the concepts of negotiation, agreement, and exchange, and that proves they have not been honest in their claims and propaganda in the past months, the spokesman noted.

He reiterated that if there is a will in the US regime, the Iranian top diplomat’s proposal is clear and does not require any interpretation and clarification.

Mousavi’s comments came after FM Zarif said during an interview in New York that the Islamic Republic is ready to swap prisoners with the United States.

“I put this offer on the table publicly now, exchange them, all these people that are in prison inside the United States, on an extradition request from the United States”, Zarif said during an interview at the Asia Society in New York, adding that he had been authorised to conduct talks on prisoners’ swap.

“We believe their charges are phony. The United States believes charges against these people in Iran are phony. Fine, let’s not discuss that. Let’s have an exchange. I am ready to do it and I have the authority to do it,” maintained Zarif.

In reaction, a US State Department Spokesperson said, “We are aware of Foreign Minister Zarif’s recent comments to a NGO in New York regarding wrongfully detained Americans in Iran. We note his reference to a humanitarian resolution of those cases, which we have called for repeatedly.”

“The Iranian regime can demonstrate its seriousness regarding consular issues, including Iranians who have indicted or convicted of criminal violations of US sanctions laws, by releasing innocent US persons immediately,” the spokesperson added in an email interview.

“We call on Iran to free all unjustly detained and missing US persons, including Xiyue Wang, Robert Levinson, Siamak Namazi, and Nizar Zakka, among others,” the spokesperson said.

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