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Iran FM denies 'direct contact' with US over detainees

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh speaks about the conflicts between Azerbaijan and Armenia during a press conference held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building in Tehran, Iran on 5 October 2020. [Fatemeh Bahrami - Anadolu Agency]
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh in Tehran, Iran on 5 October 2020 [Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency]

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Saeed Khatibzadeh, denied on Sunday holding "direct contacts" with the United States concerning American citizens held by the Islamic Republic and vice versa, the Tasnim news agency reported.

Khatibzadeh was responding to remarks issued on Sunday by White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, who said the United States had begun to communicate with Iran over Tehran's detention of US citizens.

"This news is not true as stated and there is no direct dialogue between Iran and the United States in any field," Khatibzadeh said referring to Sullivan's claims.

"Our priority is the release of Iranian prisoners in the United States," he added.

The Iranian official noted that communications on the matter were being held via the Swiss embassy, which represents US interests in Iran.

While Sullivan did not specify the number of Americans detained by Iran, US media outlets said Iran is known to be holding three Americans including Siamak Namazi, a dual US-Iranian citizen who has been detained with his 80-year-old father, Baquer. since 2016. The father and son are sentenced to ten years imprisonment for allegedly "spying" for the United States.

In addition to the Namazis, Iran holds Americans Morad Tahbaz and Emad Sharghi.

READ: Khamenei says Iran may enrich uranium to 60% purity if needed 

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