La Jornada – US and UK deny possible prisoner exchange with Iran

London. The United States and Britain rejected reports that there could be a prisoner swap with Iran. The issue was highlighted in the meeting held yesterday between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his host in London, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

The meeting took place the day before the first face-to-face meeting between foreign ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, (the G-7) in two years, largely due to the coronavirus pandemic. Ukraine, China, Russia, climate change and Covid-19 are also expected to be part of the talks. The UK holds the presidency of the G-7 this year.

Blinken’s visit to London, his first since he was appointed by President Joe Biden, comes after reports surfaced in Iran over the weekend of a possible prisoner swap. These are common and were a feature of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and the Western powers. Biden has indicated that he seeks to restart talks with Tehran after his predecessor Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the nuclear deal.

“The reports coming from Tehran are not accurate,” Blinken said after the meeting, although he indicated that “his highest priority” is to bring home all the detained Americans.

Raab also downplayed reports that Britain could pay 400 million pounds for the release of British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is imprisoned in Iran for spreading “propaganda against the system.” The chancellor insisted that the British government is working “very intensely” on the liberation of the British in Iran.

Previously, the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, maintained that his government does everything in its power about the Zaghari-Ratcliffe case.

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All G-7 representatives will meet today with envoys from other countries, including Australia, India and South Africa.

Blinken held another meeting yesterday with Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, with whom he spoke about the fight against Covid-19, the climate crisis and the North Korean situation. Blinken urged North Korea to take the diplomatic path “and see if there are ways to move towards the goal of complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”

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