U.S. Rejects Iran’s ‘Cruel’ Suggestion of Deal on U.S. Detainees

The U.S. rejected an Iranian effort to separate the fate of four Americans held in Iran from talks on a nuclear deal, calling it an “outrageous effort to deflect blame.”

The comments by State Department spokesman Ned Price in Washington and Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s lead negotiator, are the latest evidence of an impasse in negotiations on a possible U.S. return to the agreement abandoned by former President Donald Trump.

Araghchi took to Twitter on Saturday to demand the U.S. and the U.K. “stop linking a humanitarian exchange” with the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. He held out hope of a prisoner release if the U.S. and the U.K. “fulfill their part of the deal.”

That’s “just another cruel effort to raise the hopes of their families,” Price said in a statement.

“Araghchi speaks of us taking an agreement hostage when it is his government that has been unjustly detaining four innocent Americans for years,” the State Department spokesman said.

He said there’s no deal on the detainees and called on Iran to release them immediately.

In another tweet, Araghchi said the nuclear talks in Vienna are on hold during Iran’s transition of power.

Reviving the nuclear deal would set the stage for lifting sanctions on Iran in exchange for the Iranians scaling back its nuclear activities. The talks in Vienna adjourned in June after hard-line cleric Ebrahim Raisi won Iran’s presidential election.

“The release of our unjustly detained citizens is a top priority for us, and we remain interested in seeing to that as soon as possible,” Price said.

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