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Possible Breakthrough Could Release US Detainees in Iran

Possible Breakthrough Could Release US Detainees in Iran

Tuesday, 1 February, 2022 - 06:15
Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese national arrested by Iran from 2015 to 2019 - Asharq Al-Awsat

While the Biden administration is showing great reservation when it comes to disclosing details on US dual nationals held hostage in Iranian prisons, reports indicate that Qatari mediation could conclude a deal for their release in exchange for $10 billion that Iran would get from funds frozen in South Korea, Japan and Iraq.

A senior administration official told reporters on Sunday evening that the meeting between US President Joe Biden and Qatar’s ruler, Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, would review the ongoing talks in Vienna.

“Of course, Qatar, like many other of our partners in the region, are following events — following discussions quite closely,” said the official.

When asked about the role played by Qatar in negotiations for the release of US dual nationals in Iranian prisons, the official said: “The particulars of the detainees and so forth, I mean, these are being handled in other channels.”

Reports were also made on Qatar's foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani holding discussions with his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, ahead of the meeting between Biden and Qatar’s ruler at the White House.

Media leaks spread a few hours before Biden and the Emir of Qatar met. According to the leaked information, Emir Tamim would announce “positive results” in the Qatari-Iranian talks to release American detainees.

“Discussions are underway to conclude a settlement whereby Iran receives the frozen funds in exchange for the release of American detainees, and what we ask is that there be no nuclear agreement until after the file of the detainees’ release is completed,” said Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese national who was arrested by Iran in 2015, and was imprisoned until 2019.

He pointed out that “Qatar is able to conclude a deal and mediate between the two sides.”

“Getting Iran $10 billion will not improve the collapsed economic situation there, but will motivate Iran to respond to the negotiations and the demands of the P5+1 group until it gets 340 billion dollars within two years if an agreement is reached to revive the nuclear deal,” added Zakka.

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