Iranian media reports that the US wants to exchange four prisoners with the country and release blocked accounts. But the White House doesn’t want to know about it.
The US has rejected a media report that it has agreed to an exchange of prisoners with Iran. “The report is not true,” said Ron Klain, Chief of Staff at the White House, on Sunday the broadcaster CBS. The US would raise the issue of prisoners against Iran on a regular basis. Iranian state television had previously reported that it had been agreed that the Islamic Republic would release four US citizens accused of espionage back home. In return, the US would release four Iranians and unblock Iranian assets worth $ 7 billion.
In addition, the state TV reported that it had been agreed that Iran would release the British-Iranian development aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. In return, the UK will settle a debt of £ 400 million with Iran. The Thomson Reuters Foundation project manager was arrested in 2016 after visiting her parents in southern Iran. The 42-year-old British woman was accused of espionage, among other things. After serving a five-year prison sentence, she was convicted again last month for allegedly participating in a demonstration twelve years ago and for interviewing the Persian-language edition of the BBC, which is banned in Iran.
Great Britain: No new state of affairs
The UK government downplayed the report of their impending liberation on Sunday. “The legal discussions continue,” said the British Foreign Office briefly. The detainees’ family initially had no information about a possible release. “We haven’t heard anything,” her husband Richard Ratcliffe told the UK news agency.
Talks are currently under way in Vienna to revive the nuclear deal with Iran. Great Britain, Iran and, indirectly, the USA are also involved. European diplomats are said to be apparently dissatisfied with the negotiations so far. “We still have a lot to do, but little time. Against this background, we would have hoped for more progress this week,” said high-ranking diplomatic circles on Saturday. There is still no agreement on key points, said representatives of Germany, Great Britain and France at the end of a third round of negotiations in Vienna. The aim of the talks is to develop a roadmap according to which Washington would lift sanctions against Iran and Tehran would again restrict its nuclear program.
The negotiators are under time pressure. In Iran, a new president will be elected in June. The pragmatic incumbent Hassan Ruhani is no longer allowed to run after two terms. The election campaign, a new president or a new negotiating team after the election could make it more difficult to resolve the nuclear conflict.