Press TV – Iran says Washington’s failure to give a constructive response to the Iranian foreign minister’s prisoner swap offer shows the US sheds crocodile tears for its nationals.
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi made the remarks on Tuesday, referring to a proposal put forward by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif last Wednesday to exchange prisoners with the US.
Mousavi said the US used to take advantage of the issue of prisoners as a means of spreading Iranophobia and anti-Iran propaganda, but now it is stripped of that leverage following its failure to give a “positive and constructive” response to FM Zarif’s proposal.
The way the US responded to the proposal proved that it used to shed crocodile tears for prisoners, and that has been acknowledged even by the opponents of Iran, he added.
He also emphasized that the proposal set forth by the Iranian foreign minister was merely aimed at exchanging prisoners with the US and not holding talks on disputed issues.
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Regardless of the way the US responded to the proposal, “the Islamic Republic, with all its legal and political capacities, will seek to protect its nationals who have run into trouble either in the US or other countries and will do its best to relieve the sufferings of their families,” the spokesman added.
On April 24, Zarif publicly expressed Tehran’s preparedness for a prisoner swap with the US, saying he has been authorized to negotiate the deal with American officials.
“My job is to try to arrange for a deal, an exchange; I did it once, we reached an agreement and I put this offer on the table publicly now: exchange them,” Zarif told the Asia Society in New York, calling on Washington to swap all Iranians jailed in the US and on extradition requests from the US, mostly for alleged violations of US export restrictions and sanctions violations, with those imprisoned in Iran.
“We believe their charges are phony. The United States believes charges against these people in Iran are phony. Fine, let’s not discuss that. Let’s have an exchange. I am ready to do it and I have the authority to do it,” he noted.
Zarif said Iran had proposed a prisoner swap to the Donald Trump administration six months ago but had received no response.
Later on Sunday, Zarif criticized the US government for refusing to engage with Tehran following the offer he made six months ago, saying President Donald Trump’s administration refused to endorse the gesture.
Speaking to the CBS, the Iranian top diplomat reiterated that Iran was still ready to engage in negotiations with the US on exchange of prisoners as long as the other side respected Iran’s conditions.
The comments came as a shock to many amid a renewed wave of pressure by US government on Tehran.
Zarif told the CBS that he has made the prisoner swap offer based on his humanitarian duties “to make it possible for people to go back home.”