Saturday, September 26, 2015

Prisoner exchange with Iran - a possibility?

The Israel-firsters in the Capitol Hill has been very critical of the nuclear deal with Iran. They claimed that the Obama administration has not pressed hard for the release of the two Iranian Americans imprisoned in Iran on espionage charges. No thought was given to some 19 Iranians imprisoned inside the USA on what Iran calls false charges.

Now the cat is out of the bag. The Washington Post has reported that earlier this month, the speaker of Iran’s parliament, Ali Larijani, dropped hints about a prisoner swap, telling NPR that there were “practical ways” to deal with Americans held in Iran and mentioning “a number of Iranians in prison” in the United States. Iranian officials have called for freeing 19 Iranian citizens in U.S. custody on what Iran claims are unfounded charges of violating sanctions.
In a wide-ranging interview in New York with U.S. media outlets, Rouhani said a nuclear deal reached in July with the United States and other world powers has helped offer room for greater dialogue between Tehran and Washington. He said implementation of the pact can lead to other agreements.
Rouhani also said Washington now sees that Iran can contribute in the fight against terrorism, especially against the Islamic State, whose behavior he described as “inhuman, subhuman.” Iran already has been helpful in Iraq, he said, asserting that Baghdad and the Kurdish regional capital, Irbil, would have fallen to the Islamic State without Iranian assistance.
“The nuclear issue is a big test within the framework of issues” between the United States and Iran, he said. If there is success in implementing the agreement, “then perhaps we can build on that.”
He spoke of “great opportunities” in Iran for U.S. companies after the nuclear deal and said they would face no obstacles from Iran.
Despite past U.S.-Iranian tensions, “we must all think about mutual interests,” Rouhani said. “Certainly . . . we cannot live in the past forever.” The two countries, he said, need to change their attitudes toward each other and leave “the heavy burden of this past” behind.

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