International Desk, Aug 11 (EFE).- Iran confirmed Friday having reached an agreement with the United States for the exchange of five prisoners and the un-freezing of several billion Iranian dollars blocked by Washington in South Korea.
“The process of releasing billions of dollars from the assets of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which were illegally seized in South Korea by the United States for several years, has begun,” the Iranian foreign ministry said in a statement.
The ministry underlined that “the competent authorities will allocate these resources to address the various needs of the country,” in contradiction with the reports of US media that the assets would remain in Qatar and only be used to buy medicines.
The release of funds, an estimated $6 billion from the sale of gas, comes with the exchange of five American prisoners, including Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi, Morad Tahbaz and two others who remained unidentified.
The five American citizens were placed under house arrest overnight and will be allowed to leave the country once funds are made available to Iran and a similar number of Iranian prisoners are released in the US.
“As part of this commitment, the diplomatic apparatus has pursued the release of several innocent Iranian prisoners who have been unlawfully detained in the United States,” added the ministry, underlining that the prisoners sought by the US would remain in Iran.
The United States and Iran do not have diplomatic relations. In June, the two countries met in Oman to negotiate the release of US citizens that Washington considers “arbitrarily detained” by Tehran.
Iran has been accused of using prisoners of dual nationality and other countries as a pressure measure or for the exchange of prisoners with other states, a practice described as “hostage diplomacy” by other countries and human rights organizations.
The Joe Biden Administration has brushed aside rumors that the negotiation also included the resumption of the 2015 nuclear pact, from which the US under former President Donald Trump (2017-2021) had pulled out, and after which Tehran accelerated its enrichment of uranium. EFE