Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Sources say US and Iran in indirect talks on prisoner swap

The United States and Iran are in indirect negotiations to secure a possible prisoner exchange, with Qatar and the United Kingdom acting as intermediaries, NBC News has reported, citing four unidentified sources.

The US news outlet said on Wednesday that the talks “have made progress”, but it remains unclear whether an agreement can be reached soon.

The possible deal would see Tehran free American detainees in its custody as part of the prisoner exchange. Washington would also allow the release of billions of dollars of Iranian funds frozen by South Korea under US sanctions, according to the sources.

Asked to comment on the report, US State Department Spokesman Ned Price told reporters he was “not able to get into the details of what it is that may be underway” stressing that discussions with allies and partners were “sensitive”.

“What is not sensitive and what I repeat just about every time the question is posed, is that we’ve been unambiguous with the Iranian regime about the priority we attach to seeing the safe and prompt returns of the three Americans that are currently wrongfully held in Iran,” he added.

On Monday, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kanaani reiterated that Iran is ready to exchange prisoners without any precondition and regardless of other issues that exist between the two countries.

He said Tehran showed its good faith in this regard by releasing a dual Iranian-US national a few months ago, adding that the US has yet to reciprocate.

Some Iranians are in US jails just because of ignoring Washington’s illegal sanctions on Tehran.

The report comes amid stalled efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal under which Tehran was to scale back its nuclear programme in exchange for having international sanctions against its economy lifted.

Former US President Donald Trump had nixed the deal in 2018, but his successor, Joe Biden, has said he intends to return to the agreement. Numerous rounds of indirect talks over the past two years, however, have failed to restore the pact.

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