Iran has “categorically” rejected US media allegations about Tehran’s request from Washington for the creation of a consular section in the Swiss embassy, which serves as the US interests section in the Iranian capital.
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi dismissed on Monday a report by The Wall Street Journal claiming that Iran had asked for the establishment of a consular service section at the Swiss diplomatic mission in Tehran.
The American daily newspaper on Sunday quoted a US official as saying that Iran, through the Swiss, had recently called for the creation of consular services.
Iran, the unnamed US official said, hopes the consular service can be used to facilitate negotiations over prisoner swaps, the report further alleged.
The report said the administration of US President Donald Trump has yet to respond to the request, which is another sign of the depth freeze in ties.
In September, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani reiterated Tehran’s preparedness for a prisoner swap with the United States in his remarks to reporters in New York, saying, “We have talked and negotiated several times with American officials in the past for the release of the two sides’ prisoners and sometimes we have been successful.”
Speaking to reporters on the same day, however, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined to discuss the possibility of a US-Iranian prisoner swap, saying, “So, I never talk about sensitive issues as you described there.”
Tensions have been running high between Iran and the United States since May 2018, when US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew his country from the 2015 nuclear deal, and unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
Trump is a stern critic of the deal, which was clinched by Iran and six world powers, including the United States, France, Britain, China, Russia, and Germany. Under the agreement, nuclear-related sanctions put in place against Iran were lifted in exchange for curbs on Tehran’s nuclear program.
The European parties to the nuclear deal have been trying to convince Iran to remain in the pact by promising to shield its economic interests from US sanctions.
In May, a year after the US exit, Tehran began reducing its commitments under the deal on a stage-by-stage basis in response to Washington’s pullout and the ensuing European failure to make up for America’s absence.
In compliance with Articles 26 and 36 of the Iran deal, Tehran has gone through three stages in scaling back parts of its commitments in retaliation for Washington’s withdrawal from the accord and Europe’s failure to protect Iran against the sanctions.
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