NBC News reported on Wednesday, quoting informed sources that the United States and Iran are conducting indirect negotiations on prisoner’s exchange, mediated by Qatar and the United Kingdom.
The negotiations have made progress, but it remains unclear whether a final agreement will be reached.
Despite the fact that negotiations aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal have been stalled for months, and despite the fact that the US administration has imposed new sanctions against Tehran for allegedly handing over drones to Russia.
According to three sources familiar with the ongoing negotiations, the two sides are discussing an equation discussed in 2021, which could include a possible prisoner exchange, and the release of billions of US dollars in Iranian funds in South Korean banks that are currently blocked due to US sanctions.
The proposed formula would allow Iran access to funds but only to buy food, medicine or other humanitarian purposes.
The sources said that the two sides are discussing possible arrangements for how to transfer the frozen funds, with the possibility that a third country such as Qatar will supervise the transfer.
Qatar Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman al Thani, met his Iranian counterpart, Hussein Amir Abdullahian.
The Qatari delegation conveyed messages from the United States to the Iran during the meeting, which included points regarding the release of prisoners.
The Iranian Foreign Minister Hussein Amir Abdullahian, said in any interview that discussions are underway on a possible prisoner exchange with third parties helping to transmit messages, adding that the United Kingdom represents the United States in the talks.
In response to a question about potential indirect negotiations, a US State Department spokesperson said, “We’ve ways to engage with Iran on issues of concern, including the issue of releasing US citizens unjustly detained in Iran”.
He refused to disclose the details of the negotiations, stressing at the same time that the United States remains committed to securing the freedom of all US citizens who are still illegally detained abroad, and continues to work to return them home.
Iran’s mission to the United Nations in New York didn’t respond to a request for comment, and the UK embassy in Washington declined to comment.