October 1, 2023

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$6 billion in Iranian assets once frozen in South Korea now in Qatar, key for prisoner swap with US

Some $6 billion of Iranian assets once frozen in South Korea is in Qatar, a key element for a planned prisoner swap between Tehran and the United States, an Iranian official said Monday.

Nasser Kanaani made the comment during a news conference aired on state television, but the feed cut immediately after his remarks without explanation.

“The issue of swap of prisoners will be done on this day and five prisoners, citizens of the Islamic Republic, will be released from the prisons in the U.S.,” Kanaani said. “Five imprisoned citizens who were in Iran will be given to the U.S. side reciprocally, based on their will. We expect these two issues fully take place based on agreement.”

He said two of the Iranian prisoners will stay in the U.S.

Iranian news agencies immediately afterward reported, quoting Kanaani, that the prisoner swap would be done on Monday. There was no other information immediately released by the agencies and U.S. officials did not acknowledge the comments.

The announcement by Kanaani comes weeks after Iran said that five Iranian-Americans are now under house arrest as part of a confidence-building move while Seoul allowed the frozen assets, held in South Korean won, to be converted into euros. That money was then sent to Qatar, an interlocutor between Tehran and Washington in the negotiations.

The planned swap has unfolded amid a major American military buildup in the Persian Gulf, with the possibility of U.S. troops boarding and guarding commercial ships in the Strait of Hormuz, through which 20% of all oil shipments pass.

The deal has also already opened President Joe Biden to fresh criticism from Republicans and others who say that the administration is helping boost the Iranian economy at a time when Iran poses a growing threat to U.S. troops and Mideast allies. That could carry over into his reelection campaign as well.

Original News : https://www.the-independent.com/news/world/americas/us-politics/ap-south-korea-dubai-united-arab-emirates-joe-biden-b2413403.html

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