Doha reportedly helped facilitate talks over the potential prisoner swap in September last year at the time of the UNGA.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian suggested a prisoner exchange deal with the United States is imminent, though the claim was dismissed by an American official on Sunday, according to news agencies.
“We reached an agreement in the past few days and if everything goes well on the American side, I think we will witness a prisoner exchange in the short term,” the Iranian diplomat told state television, IRINN, as quoted by news agencies.
The senior Tehran official noted that while an agreement was signed between both sides during indirect talks in March last year, “the grounds to implement it have now been prepared.”
“In our point of view, everything is ready. The American side is engaged in its own final technical coordinations,” Amir-Abdollahian said.
However, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council denied that any agreement was reached.
“Unfortunately, Iranian officials will not hesitate to make things up, and the latest cruel claim will cause more heartache for the families of Siamak Namazi, Emad Sharghi, and Morad Tahbaz,” the Washington official said, referring to the three dual citizens.
Meanwhile, the Financial Times reported on Monday that Qatar helped facilitate talks over the potential prisoner swap in September last year, at the time of the United Nations General Assembly.
A month later, Tehran temporarily released Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi and lifted a travel ban on his father.
Both the father and the son received a 10-year prison sentence in 2016 and were convicted of espionage.
The issue of the prisoner swap has been at the centre of stalled talks aimed at restoring the 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Last month, Iran confirmed reports over a Qatari mediation to push for a prisoner exchange between the US and the Islamic Republic.
Other reports also pointed to a plan that would see the US release more than $7 billion of Iran’s money that had been frozen in South Korean banks in exchange for the release of the prisoners.
Reports state that the Gulf nation and the United Kingdom were mediating the indirect talks on the matter, with each country representing Tehran and Washington.
If made available, the money would only be used for humanitarian, medical, and food needs. According to the potential agreement, Qatar will likely participate to help with the money transfer.
Iranian funds were frozen following Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA under the former Donald Trump administration in 2018 in a bid to apply “maximum pressure” on Iran.
Tehran has long denied holding prisoners for political reasons and has ruled out using prisoner swaps as a precondition to restore the nuclear accord.
The Gulf state has mediated the release of prisoners in numerous countries over the years.
Talks over the revival of the JCPOA started in 2021 in Vienna but yielded no progress. Qatar also stepped in last year by hosting another round of talks in its capital.
Tensions between the US and Iran increased as the former continued to impose further sanctions on Tehran, citing its support for Russia and crackdown on protesters in the Islamic Republic.