“The US, which always used to take advantage of the issue of prisoners as a means of spreading Iranophobia and anti-Iran propaganda, was pinned down after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif put forward the proposal [to swap prisoners with America],” Mousavi told reporters on Tuesday.
On Washington’s response to Iran’s proposal, he said the American side has not yet given a positive and constructive response.
The way the US responded to Iran’s proposal proved that it used to shed crocodile tears for prisoners, and that has been acknowledged even by the opponents of Iran, he said, adding that the US is now stripped of this means of propaganda.
Mousavi further noted that the fate of prisoners with American nationality held in Iran is not a new issue and has been discussed by the two sides since a long time ago.
“Before the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal last year, the American side frequently raised the issue during every direct meeting with the Iranian delegation held on the sidelines of the regular meetings of the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).”
“In all these meetings, given the humanitarian aspects of the issue, the Iranian side also used the chance to discuss the fate of the Iranian nationals detained either in the US or in a third country at the US request,” he noted.
“After the direct meetings were stopped [following the US’ withdrawal from the JCPOA], the issue used to be followed up by intermediators,” Mousavi said.
“We have always underlined the independence of the Judiciary and the need for administering justice following all legal procedures. However, as the Iranian foreign minister told the American side several months ago, Iran is prepared to consider the issue of ‘swapping’ the prisoners,” he noted.
“The proposal was mainly aimed at offering support to our oppressed fellowmen who have run into trouble because of the US’ illegal sanctions and held captive for seeking to transfer some basic goods to Iran (including spare parts for passenger planes) or even held in a bad situation similar to captivity in a third country due to the US pressure,” he said.
According to Mousavi, the proposal set forth by the Iranian foreign minister was aimed at exchanging prisoners and not holding talks on disputed issues.
Regardless of the way the US responded to the proposal, “the Islamic Republic, with all its legal and political capacities, will seek to protect its nationals who have been in trouble either in the US or other countries and will do its best to relieve the sufferings of their families,” he added.
Back on Sunday, Zarif criticized the US government for refusing to engage with Tehran in a humanitarian deal for exchange of prisoners.
In an interview with the CBS, Zarif said Washington had refused to discuss the status of prisoners in Iran and in the US when Iran put forward a proposal six month ago.
Zarif’s new remarks on prisoner swap with the US come several days after he announced that Tehran was ready to negotiate the issue with Washington.