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22/02/2021  White House says U.S. communicating with Iran over detained Americans

International


​White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday the United States had begun to communicate with Iran over the country’s detention of American citizens, calling the matter a “complete and utter outrage”.

Iran has arrested dozens of dual nationals, including several Americans, in recent years, mostly on espionage charges. Rights activists accuse the country of trying to use the detentions to win concessions from other countries, though Tehran dismisses the charge.

Sullivan told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” that it was a “significant priority” of President Joe Biden’s administration to get those Americans “safely back home.”

“We have begun to communicate with the Iranians on this issue,” Sullivan said when asked if the administration had started hostage negotiations with Iran.

“We will not accept a long-term proposition where they continue to hold Americans in an unjust and unlawful manner,” he said, calling it a “humanitarian catastrophe”.

Following Sullivan’s remarks, an Iranian news website affiliated with Iran’s Supreme National Security Council cited a source as saying that any communication between Tehran and Washington about detained U.S. citizens had been conducted via the Swiss embassy, which handles U.S. interests, rather than through any direct contact.

Sullivan added that Biden was determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and that diplomacy was the best way to do that.



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