Sunday, June 23, 2024

Oman says Iran, US ‘close’ on prisoner swap

Iran and the United States are close to finalizing a deal on the release of American inmates held in Tehran, Oman’s Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr Albusaidi told Al-Monitor.

Albusaidi said in an interview Wednesday he senses “seriousness” on the part of both Washington and Tehran as their negotiators try to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal under which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear activity in exchange for sanctions relief.

“I can say they are close,” Albusaidi said of a potential prisoner agreement.

“This is probably a question of technicalities,” he added.

“They need to have a framework [and] a timeframe of how this should be orchestrated,” he said of the frozen funds, noting, “I think they’re ironing those things out.”

Albusaidi also stated that there is a “positive atmosphere” surrounding the nuclear issue, adding that Muscat believes the Iranian leadership is serious about reaching an agreement.

“As long as the other side also reciprocates in good faith, they’re willing to do this,” he continued.

In mid-March, Iran announced a deal reached with the United States for the exchange of prisoners between the two countries is a purely humanitarian issue, which should not be politicized.

“From the viewpoint of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the issue of exchanging prisoners is a completely humanitarian issue, which must not be subject to political games,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kanaani said.

The spokesperson added, “Since last March, a written agreement has been signed [between the two sides] through an intermediary with regard to exchanging prisoners.”

“An official representative introduced by the American side has also signed the agreement, but the deal has not been implemented so far by the US administration under various excuses,” he stated.

“Indirect messages have been exchanged [between Iran and the US] during recent weeks to update that [agreement],” Kanaani continued.

Iran has repeatedly urged Washington to release Iranian nationals who have been taken hostage on baseless charges of bypassing US sanctions, decrying Washington for tying the humanitarian issue with the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal. Tehran has stressed it is ready for a prisoner exchange with the United States based on the agreement and independent of the nuclear deal, which Washington unilaterally abandoned in May 2018 despite Tehran’s full and strict compliance.

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