Biden Administration Denies Report of Prisoner Swap with Iran

US may reportedly un-freeze $7bn Iranian assets

The state TV report quoted an anonymous official just as Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei began giving what authorities earlier described as an "important" speech.

It was unclear whether the reports were part of a bid by hard-liners to disrupt ongoing talks in Vienna on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Klain's comments followed reports on Iranian state television, quoting "an informed source", that the U.S. side had agreed to release $7 billion in frozen Iranian funds and free four Iranians accused of bypassing sanctions in exchange for the release of four Americans accused of spying.

"Unfortunately that report is untrue there is no agreement to release these four Americans", White House chief of staff Ron Klain told CBS's Face the Nation immediately following the report.

"Reports that a prisoner swap deal has been reached are not true", State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

'On the one hand, they are saying that these proceedings are legitimate, we don't agree with that at all, but then also saying that they are linked to this legal dispute - it can't be both.

As the nuclear deal came into force back in early 2016, the USA paid back its own historic military debt and in return saw the release of four Americans detained in Tehran. "We raise this with Iran and our interlocutors all the time, but so far there's no agreement". "So far there is no agreement to bring these four Americans home".

Iran is known to hold four Americans in prison, including Baquer and Siamak Namazi, environmentalist Morad Tahbaz and Iranian-American businessman Emad Shargi.

Meanwhile, British officials downplayed unconfirmed reports about a separate deal that was struck concerning the possible release of British-Iranian national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Dual-national detainees including Zaghari-Ratcliffe "shouldn't be held as leverage in any negotiations", the minister added.

Ontario calls for mandatory hotel quarantine for travellers at land borders
Elliott and Jones call these reports troubling and said they carry an "extreme risk" of spreading deadly COVID-19 variants. Ford has repeatedly blamed the COVID-19 pandemic's third wave on "porous borders".

London admits it owes Iran over the contract involving a British intermediate company, International Military Services (IMS), but is reportedly constrained by international sanctions in its ability to repay.

"We are looking at ways of resolving what has been a multi-decade long problem".

The financial dispute dates back to the 1970s, when the United Kingdom failed to deliver tanks to Iran despite accepting payment.

The new sentence came after she completed a five-year prison term in the Islamic Republic on her conviction for plotting to overthrow Iran's government, a charge that she has denied.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was initially detained while on holiday in Iran in 2016, when she was working as a project manager for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the news agency and data firm's philanthropic wing.

"Iran has always emphasized the comprehensive exchange of prisoners between the two countries", he said, without elaborating.

The UK government has repeatedly condemned Iran's treatment of her - and on Sunday Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab used its strongest language to date when he said it "amounts to torture".

Tulip Siddiq, the Labour MP who is in close contact with Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's family, praised Mr Raab for increasing the pressure on Iran.

The Iranian hostages-for-cash report came amid recent indirect talks in Vienna between the U.S. and Iran over U.S. President Joe Biden's effort to rejoin the 2015 worldwide compact with Tehran to curb Iran's program to build a nuclear weapon. Iran has not held direct negotiations with the USA during the talks, however.

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