US offers cautious response to Zarif call for prisoner swap

Al-Monitor – Responding to a proposal by Iran’s foreign minister for a prisoner swap, the State Department today urged Iran to release unjustly detained Americans immediately, but did not wholly reject Zarif’s proposal.

“I put this offer on the table publicly now: Exchange them,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said today at the Asia Society in New York.

“We believe their charges are phony,” Zarif said, referring to Iranians imprisoned in the United States and on US extradition requests, mostly for alleged violations of US export restrictions and sanctions violations. “The United States believes charges against these people in Iran are phony.”

Iran has imprisoned several Americans, including Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi and his father Baquer Namazi, a former UNICEF official; Princeton scholar Xiyue Wang; Michael White, a US Navy veteran; and Lebanese-born US green card holder Nizar Zakka. Iran has also not provided information on the whereabouts of former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who went missing on Kish Island in 2007.

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