Biden Now Going To Negotiate Directly With Iran

( President Joe Biden’s administration has opened a line of communication with Iran about American hostages that are being held in the region.

On Sunday, Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, said this is a “significant priority” for the Biden White House. He said:

“We intend to very directly communicate with the Iranians about the complete and utter outrage — the humanitarian catastrophe that is the unjust, unlawful detention of American citizens in Iran. We have begun to communicate with the Iranians on this issue, yes, and we will continue to do so as we go forward. It will be a significant priority of this administration to get those Americans safely back home.”

At least 43 known detainee or hostage cases exist in 11 different countries, the Foley Foundation says. In addition to Iran, those countries include Syria, Afghanistan, Turkey, Venezuela, Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Rwanda.

In recent years, Iran has launched a program where they arrest dual nationals, mostly on charges of espionage. Tehran has dismissed the charges from many other countries that Iran is doing this to eventually win other concessions from the countries.

Sullivan bluntly said:

“We will not accept a long-term proposition where they continue to hold Americans in an unjust and unlawful manner.”

A state-run Iranian news website published a story following Sullivan’s remarks. It said a source said any communication that has occurred between Washington and Iran about the hostages has been done through the embassy in Switzerland, rather than any direct communication between leaders.

In early February, Antony Blinken, the secretary of state, talked with the loved ones of those Americans who are being held as hostages or being unlawfully detained in other countries. He told the families that the Biden administration would make freeing their loved ones a priority.

The get-together was held via video call.

Maryam Kamalmaz, whose father Majd disappeared in 2017 in Syria while on humanitarian work, told CNN:

“Secretary Blinken was patient and kind to answer all of our questions and concerns with real concern for each individual case. We are truly thankful.”

And Paula Reed, whose son Trevor is currently imprisoned in Russia, said:

“It just made my heart sing. I felt like a whole weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I felt heard. I felt cared for. And it was just, it was awesome to feel that way. I was crying when we got off (the call); it was just so emotional.”

Sullivan also remarked that the Biden administration is willing to sit down with Tehran and other countries to talk about the Iran nuclear deal. As of now, though, Iran hasn’t responded to a meeting that was proposed by the European Union to discuss the program. The national security adviser said the ball is now in Iran’s court on the issue.

In a statement, Ned Price, a spokesperson for the State Department, said:

“The United States would accept an invitation from the European Union High Representative to attend a meeting of the P5+1 and Iran to discuss a diplomatic way forward on Iran’s nuclear program.”

The P5+1 refers to the UN Security Council’s five permanent members — France, China, the United States, the United Kingdom and Russia — plus Germany.