An Iranian news outlet affiliated with the Supreme National Security Council has confirmed a US media report that indirect negotiations under way between the United States and Iran on a possible prisoner swap.
"With Washington's request and Tehran's agreement, indirect and productive negotiations have been conducted, but the finalization of the negotiated agreements requires their honesty and non-politicization,” Noor News reported on February 16.
Citing four sources familiar with the matter, NBC News said earlier this week that Qatar and the United Kingdom are playing an intermediary role in the negotiations with Tehran aimed at securing the release of US citizens imprisoned in Iran.
The talks have made progress, but it remains unclear if a final deal will be reached, the sources said.
According to NBC, the two sides are exploring a formula that could include a possible prisoner exchange and the release of billions of dollars in funds in South Korea banks currently blocked by US sanctions.
This formula would allow Tehran access to the funds for the purchase of food, medicine or other humanitarian purposes, in accordance with existing US sanctions against the Islamic Republic, sources said.
“We remain committed to securing the freedom of all U.S. citizens who continue to be wrongfully detained overseas, including [Iranian-American nationals] Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi, and Morad Tahbaz, and we continue to work to bring them home, but we have nothing to announce at this time,” a State Department spokesperson said.
Western governments have accused the Iranian authorities of taking dual and foreign nationals hostage for the sole purpose of using them in prisoner swaps.
Many European countries have urged their nationals to leave Iran, warning that they face the risk of arbitrary arrest or an unfair trial.
Iranian officials insist that all foreigners imprisoned in Iran have been tried according to due legal process.