Release of Americans from prison in Iran is 'positive step': Blinken

Release of Americans from prison in Iran is 'positive step': Blinken

US Secretary of State says Tehran will not be receiving any sanctions relief under prisoner deal

By Iclal Turan

WASHINGTON (AA) - The release of Americans in Iran from prison is a "positive step," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday, while noting that Tehran will not be receiving any sanctions relief under the prisoner deal.

"This is just the beginning of a process that I hope and expect will lead to their return home to the United States," Blinken told reporters during a joint press conference with his Mexican counterpart Alicia Barcena Ibarra.

"My belief is that this is the beginning of the end of their nightmare, and the nightmare that their families have experienced," he added.

Noting that he will not go into "any of the details about what we're doing or engaged in,” he said he does not want to jeopardize the process.

He stressed, however, that the US will continue to enforce all of its Iran sanctions, saying: “In any event, in any respect, Iran will not be receiving any sanctions relief."

"We will continue to push back resolutely against Iran's destabilizing activities in the region and beyond, including now in supplying Russia with drones for the war of aggression against Ukraine," Blinken said.

Noting that the State Department contacted five Americans today, he said: "They're, needless to say, very happy to be out of prison. But we want to make sure that we complete this process and bring them home to their families."

Five US citizens -- Siamak Namazi, Morad Tahbaz, Emad Shargi and two others who wish to remain anonymous -- who were "unjustly detained" by Iran have been transferred to house arrest, the White House announced Thursday.

Multiple US media outlets reported that the decision to move the Americans to house arrest is part of a deal being brokered between Washington and Tehran that would also see the US release Iranian nationals detained in the US.

According to an NBC News' report, Iran has long sought the funds that have been placed under American sanctions. It added that if the deal is finalized, Iran will be allowed to use the money only for purchases of humanitarian aid, including food and medicine.

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