Qatar mediation helped secure temporary release of American prisoners in Iran

A phone call took place between the Qatari and Iranian foreign ministers on Saturday.

Washington has thanked Qatar and other international partners in helping lift the travel ban on American-Iranian citizen Baquer Namazi in Iran on Saturday to allow him to receive medical treatment.

“We express our appreciation to the US allies and partners who have worked tirelessly to help the Namazis, including the UN Secretary-General, Switzerland, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and the United Kingdom,” said US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price.

Iran had imposed a travel ban on Namazi, 85, after detaining him in 2016 when he travelled to Tehran in an effort to release his son Siamak, arrested in October 2015.

Both the father and the son received a 10-year prison sentence in 2016 and were convicted of espionage. 

Baquer Namazi, a former UNICEF representative, was granted medical furlough in 2018 without being allowed to leave the country for treatment.

According to new agencies, Siamak Namazi has also been granted a humanitarian furlough on Saturday for a week to join his father, who is expected to receive medical treatment.

“Our efforts are far from over.  We remain committed and determined to securing the freedom of all Americans unjustly detained in Iran and elsewhere. They should be reunited with their loved ones as soon as possible,” said the US official.

Nuclear deal

Also on Saturday, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani held a phone call with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

According to the Gulf state’s foreign ministry, “the two sides reviewed the bilateral relations and the latest developments” in the nuclear talks.

“[The] minister of foreign affairs reiterated the State of Qatar’s aspiration for the Islamic Republic of Iran and the United States to reach a consensus that contributes to reviving the nuclear deal and reaching a fair agreement for all, taking into consideration the concerns of all parties,” added the Gulf state’s foreign ministry.

Qatar has been serving as a platform for dialogue between the US and Iran in hopes of restoring the JCPOA. In June, the Gulf state hosted a round of indirect talks after negotiations kicked off in Vienna in April last year.

Speaking to French outlet Le Point, Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said that while no one officially approached Doha for mediation, it continued talking to the Americans and Iranians.

“We are talking with our US allies, and we are talking with the Iranians, because Iran is our neighbour. It is in our duty and interest to do everything to bring the parties together and to encourage them in negotiating a peaceful settlement,” said Sheikh Tamim last month.

During the 77th UN General Assembly last month, the amir also stressed the need to reach an agreement that addresses the concerns of all parties.

“No one has an alternative to such an agreement, and reaching it would be in the interest in the security and stability of the region and will open the door to a broader dialogue at the regional security level,” said the amir.

The US unilaterally stepped out of the JCPOA in 2018 under the Trump administration in an effort to exert maximum pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear activity. The withdrawal was followed with crippling sanctions imposed on Tehran.

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