“We have had contacts with Iran indirectly. There are no direct negotiations over the nuclear file or detainees. We have had those indirect conversations on detainees because it’s our obligation to try to bring US citizens home,” he told reporters.
“So we talk to any government any way we can, like we do with the Russian government on the unjustly detained Americans there, in an effort to find a solution to get our people home,” Sullivan added.
In recent years, Iran has arrested dozens of dual nationals and foreigners, mostly on espionage and security-related charges. Rights groups have accused Iran of taking prisoners to gain diplomatic leverage, while Western powers have long demanded that Tehran free their citizens, who they say are political prisoners. Tehran denies holding people for political reasons.
Tehran has repeatedly stressed it is ready for a prisoner exchange with the United States based on the agreement and independent of the nuclear deal, which the US unilaterally abandoned in May 2018 despite Iran’s full and strict compliance.
Iran has blasted the US for linking a humanitarian exchange of prisoners with the talks over the revival of the accord. Tehran has also rejected calls for wider negotiations over its military activities and missile defense program, stressing it would only discuss over its nuclear program with world powers.
Some Iranians are in US jails just because of ignoring Washington illegal sanctions on Tehran.