Thursday, June 20, 2024

White House says focused on release of detained Americans, rather than Iran nuclear deal

Washington is now focused on talks with Tehran on the return of detained US citizens in Iran, adding work on a new nuclear deal is not high on the agenda, White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said on Sunday.

“We are having discussions obviously with Iranian officials about trying to get wrongfully detained Americans home, that’s true … and the return to the Iran deal is not a major focus on the agenda right now. We’ve got to make sure that we are dealing with their destabilizing behavior and we are,” Kirby told Fox News, answering on the question about possible informal talks between the US and Iran on a nuclear deal.

Earlier in the day, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told CBS news that Washington is “not close to any kind of a deal” with respect to Iran’s nuclear program. He added that Washington’s main focus in relations with Tehran is to seek the release of US citizens detained in Iran.

The United States and Iran are in indirect negotiations to secure a possible prisoner exchange.

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.

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.

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.

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