Iran and the U.S. will soon carry out a prisoner exchange, the Islamic Republic’s foreign minister said, in a deal that will likely involve dual U.S.-Iranian nationals detained in Tehran.

The U.S. denied the arrangement, with State Department spokesman Ned Price calling it a “cruel lie,” The Associated Press reported.

Earlier Sunday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told Iranian state TV: “If everything goes well on the U.S. side, we can witness an exchange of prisoners soon,” without giving a time frame.

He said that the two countries signed a deal to exchange detainees in March 2022 and had agreed in recent days to carry out the swap soon.

The comments come as Iran is seeking to repair damaged ties with countries in the region as it faces unprecedented levels of public dissent and an economic crisis at home.

The Islamic Republic has been on a diplomatic push in recent weeks with high-level visits to China and Turkey. Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator is currently in Oman, which has helped broker prisoner releases in the past.


On Friday, Iran and Saudi Arabia announced they would restore diplomatic ties after they were cut seven years ago when Riyadh’s embassy in Tehran was mobbed and set on fire over the execution of a Saudi Shiite Cleric.

Iranian state media has linked the freedom of dual national prisoners to some $7 billion of oil payments owed to Iran that are trapped in South Korea because of U.S. sanctions.

Their cases have also been tied to the stalled talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with the U.S. The negotiations were effectively suspended over Iran’s sale of military drones to Russia and its deadly crackdown of widespread anti-government protests that erupted in September.

There are at least five people detained in Iran who are either dual U.S. and Iranian citizens or U.S. permanent residents. They include Siamak Namazi, who has been held in Tehran’s Evin prison since October 2015.

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