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Iran declares its readiness to exchange more prisoners

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Iran announced on Monday that it is open to exchanging more prisoners with the United States, despite its assertion during the past two days that the exchange of prisoners did not come as a result of negotiations with its enemy, Washington.

On Saturday, US President Donald Trump thanked Iran for its “very fair negotiations” after the prisoner exchange, which was organized in Switzerland.

On Saturday, Masoud Soleimani, an Iranian scientist arrested in the United States since 2018, was released, and the American-born Xiu Wang, who was born in China and imprisoned in Iran since 2016.

However, the Iranian government denied that the prisoner exchange is the result of any negotiations between the two countries that have not had diplomatic relations since 1980.

“This was just an exchange … We are ready to move on the exchanges, but there have been no negotiations,” government spokesman Ali Rabei told state television.

He added that “negotiations or any kind of talks” can only take place “within the framework of 5 + 1 and after America stops sanctions and economic terrorism.”

And the 5 + 1 group is made up of countries that reached a nuclear deal with Iran in 2015 and are the five permanent members of the UN Security Council in addition to Germany.

The United States withdrew from the nuclear deal last year and reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Xu Wang, PhD student in history at Princeton University, USA, was conducting research on the Qajar dynasty in Iran, where he was arrested in August 2016.

As for Soleimani, he is a professor and researcher in the field of stem cells at the University of “Turbat Tutor”, and he went to the United States on October 22, 2018, according to the official Iranian news agency.

On Monday, Spokesman Rabiei said that the exchange came despite the American rejection of the offer that Tehran made to Washington last year to exchange all prisoners.

He stressed that a few months ago, Iran received a message from a “former US official” stating that the Americans were ready for an exchange.

Rabei appears to be referring to former US congressman Jim Slattery, who contacted the Iranians on behalf of the Wang family’s lawyer, The New Yorker reported.

In its report, the magazine said that Soleimani was expected to be deported after confessing the charges against him as part of an agreement arranged by Slateri with Soleimani’s lawyer.

It quoted a US administration official as saying, “In a surprising move, the Justice Department dropped all charges against Soleimani” before the exchange.

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