Iran insists prisoner swap deal with US, says ready to proceed “today”

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The Iranian flag flies in front of the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Vienna, Austria, on May 23, 2021. REUTERS / Leonhard Foeger / File Photo / File Photo

DUBAI, July 18 (Reuters) – Iran insisted on Sunday that a prisoner exchange deal had been reached with the United States, the spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry said one day. after Washington denied that such a deal had been made.

“‘Outrageous’ = US denies the mere fact that there is an agreement on the detainee issue. Even on how to announce it,” Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a tweet.

“A humanitarian exchange has been agreed with the US and UK in Vienna – separately from the JCPOA (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) – on the release of 10 prisoners from all sides. Iran stands ready to proceed TODAY. “

The United States on Saturday accused Tehran of a “scandalous” effort to deflect blame for the stalemate in the nuclear talks and denied that an agreement had been reached on a prisoner swap. Read more

Earlier on Saturday, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi tweeted that the United States and Britain must stop linking a humanitarian exchange to the nuclear talks.

The talks aim to revive a 2015 deal between Iran and six major powers that curbed Tehran’s nuclear program in return for lifting sanctions against Iran. Washington abandoned the deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions against Iran.

Tehran and the administration of President Joe Biden have communicated on prisoner exchanges aimed at securing the release of Iranians held in American prisons and in other countries for violating American sanctions, and of Americans imprisoned in Iran.

Iran has arrested dozens of people with dual citizenship, including several Americans, in recent years, mostly for espionage.

Human rights activists accuse the country of trying to use the detentions to gain concessions from other countries, although Tehran rejects the accusation.

The sixth round of indirect talks between Tehran and Washington in Vienna were postponed on June 20. Iranian and Western officials said significant gaps remain to be addressed.

Iran has said the seventh round of talks will not resume until Iran’s hard-line president-elect Ebrahim Raisi takes office in early August.

‘HARD LINE’ TO TALKS

A hardline lawmaker has said that Raisi, who like Iran’s highest authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has backed the talks, will take “a hard line” in the Vienna talks.

“Raisi’s government will not quit the Vienna talks … But the talks will only continue if the interests of the Iranian nation are guaranteed,” Mojtaba Zonnour told the semi-official Iranian news agency Mehr. “Biden is trying to keep 517 penalties in place.”

Since 2019, Iran has exceeded many limits of the deal on its nuclear program. Tehran says its nuclear measures will only be reversed if all US sanctions are lifted, including the institutions and individuals Washington has targeted for allegedly supporting terrorism and human rights abuses.

Written by Parisa Hafezi Editing by Frances Kerry

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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