Iran downplays state media report on US prisoner swap

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Iranian officers say they will’t verify an Iranian state media report that mentioned the United States and Iran have agreed to swap prisoners, even because the Joe Biden administration forcefully shot down the report as unfaithful.

Quoting an unnamed Iranian official, state-run TV reported on Sunday that Washington and Tehran had agreed 4 Iranian-Americans detained in Iran for alleged spying could be traded for 4 Iranians held within the United States for sanctions violations, in addition to the discharge of $7 billion in frozen Iranian funds.

But Iran’s United Nations ambassador, Majid Takht-e Ravanchi, later dismissed the report as “not confirmed.”

“Iran has always emphasized the comprehensive exchange of prisoners between the two countries,” he mentioned, in response to state-run IRNA information company.

The Biden administration was fast to disclaim the rumored alternate. State Department spokesperson Ned Price mentioned “reports that a prisoner swap deal has been reached are not true.”

“As we have said, we always raise the cases of Americans detained or missing in Iran,” Price added. “We is not going to cease till we’re capable of reunite them with their households.”

President Joe Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain, also pushed back on the report as “untrue,” telling CBS’ “Face the Nation” that “there is no agreement to release these four Americans.”

“We’re working very hard to get them released,” Klain mentioned. “We raise this with Iran and our interlocutors all the time, but so far there’s no agreement.”

Iran is holding at the least 4 Americans of twin nationality, together with father and son Baquer and Siamak Namazi, businessman Emad Shargi and environmentalist Morad Tahbaz. In February, nationwide safety adviser Jake Sullivan mentioned the United States had begun to speak with the Iranians on the hostage challenge.

World powers have been assembly in Vienna to barter a return to the 2015 nuclear deal, however Tehran and Washington are at odds over which facet will act first to renew compliance. Iran’s leaders insist the United States should roll again sanctions imposed by the Donald Trump administration earlier than they reverse their violations of the deal.

“There is still a fair distance to travel to close the remaining gaps,” Sullivan informed ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “And those gaps are over what sanctions the United States and other countries will roll back. They are over what nuclear restrictions Iran will accept on its program to ensure that they can never get a nuclear weapon.”

The Iranian TV report additionally mentioned British-Iranian charity employee Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe could be freed if the United Kingdom first paid decades-old debt owed to Iran. Last week, Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was arrested and detained in Iran in 2016, was sentenced to a different 12 months in jail on propaganda fees.

On whether or not the UK would pay the 400 million kilos, the British Foreign Office mentioned it could “explore options to resolve this 40-year-old case, and we will not comment further as legal discussions are ongoing.”