White House says US in talks with Iran over detained Americans

White House says US in talks with Iran over detained Americans
Joe Biden's national security adviser Jake Sullivan. Source: AFP
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Daily US Times: Jake Sullivan, the US President’s national security adviser, said on Sunday the US had begun to communicate with Iran over detained Americans, calling the matter a “complete and utter outrage”.

In recent years, Iran has arrested dozens of dual nationals, including several Americans, mostly on espionage charges. Human rights activists accuse Iran of trying to use detained Americans and other detentions to win concessions from other countries, a charge it dismisses.

Jake Sullivan told CBS’s Face the Nation it was a “significant priority” to get those Americans “safely back home”.

He said: “We have begun to communicate with the Iranians on this issue. We will not accept a long-term proposition where they continue to hold Americans in an unjust and unlawful manner.”

He added that the issue represented a “humanitarian catastrophe”.

Any communication between Washington and Tehran about US citizens detained in Iran had been conducted via the Swiss embassy, which handles US interests, rather than through any direct contact, an Iranian news website said.

An unnamed source told the website that Iran’s government has not discussed American prisoners with Washington”. The news website is affiliated to Iran’s Supreme National Security Council. “All messages have been exchanged through the Swiss embassy in Tehran.”

Sullivan said President Biden was “determined” to prevent Tehran from getting a nuclear weapon, and that diplomacy was the best way to do that.

Last week, the United States said that it was ready to talk to Iran about both nations returning to a 2015 accord, abandoned by the Trump administration.

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