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Iran Says Ready to Swap Prisoners With United States 


FILE - A man views newspapers in Tehran, Iran August 16, 2022. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency via Reuters)

Iranian media quoted a foreign ministry spokesman Wednesday saying that Iran is prepared to swap prisoners with the United States.

The semi-official FARS news agency quoted spokesman Nasser Kanaani as calling on U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration to “act instead of performing theatrical shows.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called attention Tuesday to the case of Iranian-American Siamak Namazi, saying that Namazi has been “wrongfully detained in Iran” for 2,500 days.

“We are determined to secure his freedom and ensure all Americans who have been wrongfully detained by Iran, including his father, Baquer, can return home,” Blinken tweeted.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said the U.S. side believes those being held in Iran are “being held as political pawns, presumably on the part of the Iranian regime ... in an effort to seek to exact leverage or some other concession.”

“It is a practice that is abhorrent. It is a practice that we condemn anywhere and everywhere it takes place,” Price added.

He said seeking the release of American detainees is not tied to the ongoing negotiations about returning to the international agreement signed in 2015 restricting Iran’s nuclear activity in exchange for sanctions relief.

The U.S. said separately Tuesday it is studying Iran’s response to a final European Union-brokered proposal on reviving the accord.

The State Department said it received the Iran document from the EU and would share a U.S. response with its European allies.

The official IRNA news agency in Tehran reported Tuesday that Iranian negotiators had submitted their reply to the European Union and suggested they still wouldn't accept the EU proposal, despite warnings there would be no more negotiations.

“The differences are on three issues, in which the United States has expressed its verbal flexibility in two cases, but it should be included in the text,” the IRNA report said. “The third issue is related to guaranteeing the continuation of [the deal], which depends on the realism of the United States.”

"Iran has submitted a written response to the draft text of a Vienna agreement and has announced that an agreement will be concluded if the United States reacts with realism and flexibility," the agency reported.

IRNA earlier quoted Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian as saying, "The American side has verbally accepted the two demands" made by Tehran.

A spokesman for the EU's top diplomat, Josep Borrell, confirmed that Tehran had submitted its response and that it was being reviewed.

"We are studying it and are consulting with the other JCPOA participants and the U.S. on the way ahead," the spokesperson said, referring to the formal title of the 2015 nuclear pact.

He did not give any details on what the response contained.

The possibility of reviving the deal, which could lead to the lifting of U.S. sanctions on Iran's oil output, has helped trigger a fall in global oil prices.

The landmark agreement has been on hold since U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from it in 2018, and reimposed crippling economic sanctions against Iran.

The main countries negotiating with Iran have been waiting for Tehran's response to the final draft Borrell submitted last week.

IRNA quoted an unidentified Iranian diplomat as saying, "The European Union's proposals were acceptable so long as they provide assurances to Iran on various points related to sanctions and safeguards" as well as pending issues with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia resumed talks with Iran on the accord earlier in August after a months-long hiatus. The United States has been participating indirectly.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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