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Iran says it is prepared to release all US 'political prisoners' in full exchange

US envoy to Iran recently vowed to reject any 'partial' prisoner swap that did not see every American held by Tehran released in tandem
Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei speaks during a news conference in the capital Tehran on 22 July 2019 (AFP)

Iran is preparing to hold talks with the US on a prisoner exchange that would see the release of several Iranians who have been imprisoned around the world due to sanctions violations.

Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei, at a news conference on Tuesday, said that as part of the negotiations Tehran is willing to release all of its political prisoners with US citizenship. 

'Iran is ready to exchange all American political prisoners in exchange for the release of all Iranian prisoners'

- Ali Rabiei, spokesman

"Negotiations are underway on the exchange of prisoners between Iran and America, and we will issue more information if Iranian prisoners are released and the country's interests are secured and the talks reach a conclusion," Rabiei said, as quoted by Reuters. 

"‌Because of its humanitarian aims, Iran is ready to exchange all American political prisoners in exchange for the release of all Iranian prisoners who have been detained around the world at the behest of America," he continued.

The US State Department did not respond to Middle East Eye's request for comment by the time of this article's publication. 

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US says no 'partial deal'

Multilateral nuclear negotiations with Iran have stalled for around three weeks as the US attempts to salvage the Obama-era deal that former US President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018. Iran has called for a total lifting of sanctions in exchange for its compliance. 

On Monday, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the US does not plan to impose a deadline on the next, and seventh, round of talks. He also said that only Tehran would determine a time for talks to resume. 

In the past, Iran has been accused of arresting activists that hold dual citizenship - with the intentions of sparking negotiations for an exchange. Tehran has denied such allegations. 

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Last week, US envoy to Iran Robert Malley said President Joe Biden would not accept a "partial deal" in its negotiations with Tehran over detained citizens, taking an all-or-nothing approach. 

Malley pointed to the 2016 prisoner swap with Iran that freed a group of Americans without securing the release of an Iranian-American businessman. 

"I worked on this issue in the Obama administration when we secured the release of a number of our unjustly detained citizens, but not all," Malley said last week, speaking to a group of former prisoners and families of those still imprisoned in Iran. 

"We're saying all of them have to come home. We don't want to do a partial deal. We don't want to leave anyone behind. Again, I know how painful that was last time and don't want to relive history," Malley said.

In May, the State Department denied Iranian news reports that claimed a prisoner swap deal had been reached for $7bn.  

Last year, Iran announced that it was prepared for a full prisoner exchange with the United States "with no preconditions", but that the Trump administration refused to respond to its offers. 

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