Abbas Mousavi, spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, revealed that Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif discussed with Bill Richardson, the former governor of New Mexico, the exchange of US prisoners with Iranian prisoners.
Zarif welcomed the response to the humanitarian efforts exerted to release Iranians imprisoned in the US and its allied countries.
On Wednesday, the US authorities released the Iranian scientist Sirous Asgari, 59, who was imprisoned in the US since 2016, on charges of “stealing trade secrets.”
A day after the return of the Iranian scientist Asgari to his country, Iranian authorities in turn released former US soldier Michael White, who was arrested in July 2018 in Iran.
Both the US State Department and Iranian officials have previously repeatedly denied that Asgari was part of a swap with White, or anyone else and said the cases were separate.
Pleased that Dr. Majid Taheri and Mr. White will soon be joining their families.
Prof. Sirous Asgari was happily reunited with his family on Weds.
This can happen for all prisoners. No need for cherry picking.
Iranian hostages held in—and on behalf of—the US should come home.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) June 4, 2020
US-Iranian relations have been bitter since the Islamic Revolution toppled the US-backed Shah of Iran in 1979 and ushered in an era of theocratic rule. Tensions flared after President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 and reimposed US sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy.
Worsening tensions, a January 3 US drone strike in Iraq killed Qassem Soleimani, the powerful head of Iran’s elite Quds Force.