Iran, US reach initial agreement for prisoner exchange: Amir-Abdollahian
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian says Iran and the United States have reached an initial agreement to exchange prisoners.
“We reached an agreement in recent days on the issue of prisoner swap,” Amir-Abdollahian said on Sunday, adding that if everything goes well by the American side, the exchange would take place soon.
He noted Iran regards the case as a “completely humanitarian issue,” adding that a document has “indirectly” been signed and approved between Tehran and Washington since March last year in this regard.
“The ground for its implementation has been prepared now, and from our point of view, everything is ready while the US is currently working on the final technical coordination,” the top Iranian diplomat explained.
An agreement on the exchange of prisoners was reached between Tehran and Washington in Vienna on the sidelines of negotiations concerning the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Tehran has repeatedly said it is ready for a prisoner exchange with the United States based on the agreement and independently of the nuclear deal, which the US unilaterally abandoned in May 2018 despite Iran’s full and strict compliance.
Amir-Abdollahian also noted that exchange of messages between the two sides is underway on the revival of the JCPOA.
Iran-Saudi deal not detrimental to any side
Elsewhere in his remarks, Amir-Abdollahian said a China-brokered agreement reached between Iran and Saudi Arabia on the resumption of mutual relations aims to promote peace, security and sustainable development in the region, emphasizing that the accord was broadly welcomed.
However, he said, there are specific mechanisms regarding the Yemeni, Syrian, Afghan and Ukrainian issues, emphasizing that Iran regards dialogue and negotiations as the main solutions to such challenges and regional conflicts.
The foreign minister expressed hope that the détente would serve the interests of the Iranian and Saudi people as well as all Muslim nations in the region.
Naturally, all countries act in line with their own interests, and it is not true that the decisions of the countries and those of the resistance forces in the region about the Israeli regime’s acts of aggression and threats are overlooked in this agreement, he said.
After several days of intensive negotiations hosted by China, Iran and Saudi Arabia finally clinched a deal on Friday to restore diplomatic relations and re-open embassies and missions within two months.
According to the statement, Iran and Saudi Arabia highlighted the need to respect each others’ national sovereignty and refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of one another.
Iran, Saudi Arabia and China also expressed their firm determination to make their utmost efforts to promote regional and international peace and security.
US lacks needed courage to decide on JCPOA revival
Amir-Abdollahian further pointed to the negotiations to revive the US-abandoned nuclear deal and said removing baseless accusations against Iran in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is an important issue and one of the red lines for Iran.
During the IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi’s recent visit to Tehran, the sides managed to make “good” progress, he said, adding that Iran and the UN nuclear agency have constructive cooperation which would have positive impacts on the JCPOA revival talks.
Amir-Abdollahian noted that he has told the American officials that they did not have the necessary courage to make a final decision to restore the agreement while the Iranian negotiating team put forward initiatives with wisdom and courage in a very transparent way.
He emphasized that the sides are on the right path and expressed hope that they would reach good outcomes.
Negotiations between the parties to the nuclear deal kicked off in Vienna in April 2021 with the intention of bringing the US back into the agreement and putting an end to its “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran.
The discussions, however, have been at a standstill since August 2022 due to Washington’s insistence on not lifting all of the anti-Iran sanctions and offering the necessary guarantees that it will not exit the agreement again.