Iran says it considered exchanging Zaghari-Ratcliffe for £400m owed by UK
Zarif said the suggestion had first come from Philip Hammond, some time before he left the Foreign Office to become chancellor in July 2016. The funds involved were £400m owed by the UK for a decades-old tank sale. In return, the Iranian foreign minister said he was prepared to argue for Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release at an Iranian court.
Zarif said the proposal remained on the table when Boris Johnson became foreign secretary, but his successor, Jeremy Hunt, abandoned it.
“Jeremy started talking about ‘you’re asking for ransom’. And I said: ‘Come on, this is not something that I started. This is something that Philip started,’” Zarif said. “Jeremy started to play tough because he wanted to become prime minister and it didn’t work out for anybody.”
Zarif said the release of funds would not have amounted to a ransom.
“As the foreign minister I do not have a standing in an Iranian court on any issue of somebody who is an Iranian citizen,” Zarif said. Iran does not recognise dual nationality in cases of Iranian nationals.
“I have a standing for any foreigner who is accused of spying. I have a standing when I say there is an exchange. That gives me a standing in a court. That gives me a way to intervene.”
The foreign minister said the subject came up in a recent phone conversation with the current UK foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, but with no conclusion.
“He [raised it] and I told him that there was an offer from their side which unfortunately hasn’t been fulfilled. Basically he made a statement and I made a rebuttal and then we said goodbye.”
Read the full article at: The Guardian
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