U.S. in Contact With Iran on Detained Americans, Biden Aide Says
(Bloomberg) -- The Biden administration is in contact with Iran to demand the release of Americans held in the Islamic republic, an issue that will help determine future relations between the countries, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said.
While Iran says it won’t negotiate unless the U.S. rejoins a nuclear accord abandoned by the Trump administration, Sullivan said “the script has been flipped” because President Joe Biden has offered to re-engage with Tehran.
“He’s prepared to go to the table to talk to the Iranians about how we get strict constraints back on their nuclear program,” Sullivan said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “That offer still stands.”
“It is Iran that is isolated diplomatically now, not the United States, and the ball is in their court,” he said.
Asked about at least five U.S. citizens held by Iran, Sullivan said obtaining their release will be a “significant priority.”
“We have begun to communicate with the Iranians on this issue and we will continue to do so as we go forward,” he said. “Our strong message to the Iranians will be that we will not accept a long-term proposition where they continue to hold Americans in an unjust and unlawful manner.”
Sullivan renewed U.S. calls for Chinese authorities and the World Health Organization to provide a fuller accounting of how Covid-19 virus originated and spread from China. He said U.S. officials “have questions about” a WHO report on the origins of the pandemic that followed months of negotiation with China to allow a fact-finding mission into the country.
“We do not believe that China has made available sufficient original data into how this pandemic began to spread both in China and then eventually around the world,” Sullivan said. “We believe both China and WHO should step up on this matter.”
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