The United States yesterday urged Tehran to send a charter plane to take home 11 Iranian nationals whom Washington wants to deport and accused the Islamic Republic of stalling the repatriation process, Reuters reported.
"We have 11 of your citizens who are illegal aliens who we have been trying to return to your country. You suddenly SAY you want them back, so how about you send a charter plane over and we'll return all 11 at once?" Ken Cuccinelli, acting deputy secretary of the US Homeland Security Department, said in Twitter posts.
He said Washington had been trying for months to return Sirous Asgari, an Iranian science professor who was acquitted in November of stealing trade secrets but was still under US custody, and that Tehran was delaying the process.
"Stop talking rubbish!" Abbas Mousavi, spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, tweeted. "Since Sep2018, @JZarif has put 'universal prisoners swap' on the table, urged U.S. act responsibly abt the Iranian HOSTAGES in & elsewhere. Your regime has reacted callously & risked their lives….Let our citizens go!"
Cuccinelli made no mention of a prisoner swap between the two countries.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said earlier that Tehran had been ready for a prisoner exchange for some time and that it was the United States that had not responded yet, Iran's Tasnim news agency quoted him as saying.