Tehran Names Condition for New Iran-US Prisoner Swap
The new exchange of prisoners between Iran and the United States is possible only if Washington changes its approach to treating the Middle Eastern nation, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said.
On Saturday, the US CBS News broadcaster released its interview with Zarif in which the issue of detention of US citizens in Iran was discussed.
“It is a possibility, certainly from a humanitarian perspective, but it requires a change of attitude,” Zarif told the broadcaster when asked if Tehran would consider the possibility of holding a prisoner swap like the one, which took place during the administration of former US President Barack Obama.
Washington needs to “show the ability to engage in respectful discourse” in order for Tehran to be willing to carry out talks with the United States on the issue of the US citizens imprisoned in Iran, Zarif noted.
“The United States needs to approach this from a position of dealing with another sovereign government … You do not engage in negotiations by exercising disrespect for a country, for its people, for its government, by openly making claims including this illusion about regime change. Then you do not leave much room for a genuine dialogue,” the Iranian foreign minister stressed.
Zarif also noted, that despite the Iranian diplomats were unable to influence the decisions on the US nationals jailed in Iran, taken by the country’s’ judiciary, they had been trying to use their influence from the humanitarian perspective to make sure that health conditions of those imprisoned were taken care of. The Iranian top diplomat added that there were Iranian citizens, jailed in the United States, too.
In February, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert called on Tehran to release and return to the United States four US nationals, currently jailed in Iran.
On the same month, US media reported that the administration of US President Donald Trump secretly proposed Tehran to create a channel for communication on the possible prisoner swap.
In 2016, Washington and Iran held a prisoner exchange during which seven Iranians were swapped for four dual-citizenship US nationals.
The relations between Tehran and Washington have worsened since Trump came to power, particularly due to the US president’s criticism of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or the Iranian nuclear deal.
The multilateral agreement envisages gradual lifting of the western anti-Iran sanctions in exchange for Tehran abandoning its nuclear weapons program. In October, Trump, who has repeatedly threatened to halt the Iranian nuclear deal, said his administration had decided not to certify that Iran was in compliance with the accord. The claim caused objections from Tehran.