Wednesday, January 29, 2020 | ePaper

Iran ready for more prisoner swaps with US, not negotiations

  • Print


U.S. Embassy Switzerland, Edward McMullen greets Xiyue Wang in Zurich, Switzerland on Saturday.

AP, Tehran :
Iran is ready for more prisoner swaps with the United States, the Cabinet spokesman said Monday even as he reiterated the Iranian leadership's stance that there will be no other negotiations between Tehran and Washington.
The remarks by the spokesman, Ali Rabiei, were the first after a prisoner exchange over the weekend saw Iran free a Chinese-American scholar from Princeton who had been held for three years on widely criticized espionage charges.
The scholar, Chinese-American graduate student Xiyue Wang, was freed in exchange for Iranian scientist Massoud Soleimani who had faced a federal trial in Georgia over charges he violated sanctions by trying to have biological material brought to Iran.
"We are ready to cooperate to return all Iranians unlawfully imprisoned in the U.S.," Rabiei told reporters at a briefing in Tehran. He said however that there will be no other negotiations with the U.S. beside this issue.
Rabiei said any further negotiations would be possible through the so-called 5+1 framework - a reference to the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany - under the condition that the U.S. first lift sanctions on Iran.
Saturday's exchange was negotiated indirectly and took place in Switzerland, which looks after U.S. interests in Iran as Tehran and Washington have no diplomatic ties. The swap raised hopes of other similar actions and was seen as a rare diplomatic breakthrough between Tehran and Washington after months of tensions. But it was unclear if it would have any effect on Iranian-U.S. relations.
Crushing U.S. sanctions on Iran blocking it from selling crude oil abroad remain in place, part of President Donald Trump's maximum pressure campaign imposed following his unilateral withdraw from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers last year. Those sanctions in part fueled the anger seen in nationwide protests last month that Iranian security forces violently put down.
Amnesty International says that over 200 people were killed in the crackdown though Iran has offered no death toll or any other figures related to the unrest.
There are other Western detainees from the U.S. and elsewhere who remain held in Iran and who could be used as bargaining chips for future negotiations.
Others held in Iran include U.S. Navy veteran Michael White, who is serving a 10-year espionage sentence, as well as environmentalist Morad Tahbaz, an Iranian with U.S. and British citizenship also initially sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Also in Iran are 83-year-old Baquer Namazi and his son, Siamak Namazi, dual Iranian-American nationals facing 10-year sentences after they were convicted of collaborating with a hostile power. Baquer Namazi now is on a prison furlough. However, the Namazis say he remains unable to leave Iran.
Former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who vanished in Iran in 2007 while on an unauthorized CIA mission, remains missing as well. Iran says that Levinson is not in the country and that it has no further information about him, but his family holds Tehran responsible for his disappearance.

More News For this Category

Trump lawyers raise defenses as pressure grows for witnesses

Trump lawyers raise defenses as pressure grows for witnesses

AP, Washington :President Donald Trump's legal team is raising a broad-based attack on the impeachment case against him even as it mostly brushes past allegations in a new book that

US airstrikes in Afghanistan hit heaviest levels since 2010

US airstrikes in Afghanistan hit heaviest levels since 2010

AFP, Kabul :American warplanes dropped more bombs on Afghanistan in 2019 than at any other time in at least a decade, according to the US Air Force, as Washington intensified

'Like I'm trapped': Africans in China lockdown see no escape

'Like I'm trapped': Africans in China lockdown see no escape

AP, Johannesburg :The normally bustling supermarket in Wuhan was deserted, looking more foreign than ever. Khamis Hassan Bakari walked the aisles and saw just two other shoppers, and fear sank

Fighting sharply rises in Yemen, endangering peace efforts

Fighting sharply rises in Yemen, endangering peace efforts

AP, Sanaa :A drastic escalation in fighting between the Saudi-led military coalition and Houthi rebels in Yemen has killed and wounded hundreds of people over the past week, officials and

Sahel violence having devastating impact on children: UN

Sahel violence having devastating impact on children: UN

AFP, Dakar :Hundreds of children in the Sahel were killed, maimed or forcibly separated from their parents last year, the United Nations said Tuesday, as a jihadist conflict rages across

News In Brief

Qatar appoints new Prime MinisterAFP, DohaQatar's ruler appointed a new prime minister on Tuesday, the state news agency reported, replacing veteran regime insider Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani.New

Public holiday extended in China to curb coronavirus epidemic

Public holiday extended in China to curb coronavirus epidemic

AFP, Beijing :Chinese authorities have ordered the extension of a public holiday in an effort to contain an epidemic that has killed 56 people and infected nearly 2,000 worldwide, state-run

Indian-Americans protest in 30 US cities against Citizenship law on Republic Day

Indian-Americans protest in 30 US cities against Citizenship law on Republic Day

PTI, Washington :India's 71st Republic day celebrations in the US on Sunday were marred by protests and marches, albeit peaceful ones, against recent changes in the citizenship law by large

Bolivia’s President asks all ministers to resign

Bolivia’s President asks all ministers to resign

AFP, La Paz :Bolivia's interim President Jeanine Anez asked all her ministers to resign a little more than three months before a general election, a statement from the presidency said

China virus toll spikes despite massive lockdown

AFP, Wuhan :The toll from China's viral epidemic spiked on Monday to 80 dead with hundreds of new infections despite unprecedented quarantines and travel lockdowns, as foreign governments scrambled to