NEW YORK: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday that he spoke with five US citizens freed from Iran after they landed in Qatar in an exchange.
“It’s very good to be able to say that our fellow citizens are free,” Blinken told reporters in New York.
“I can tell you that it was for them, for me, an emotional conversation.”
President Joe Biden approved the swap despite Republican criticism. As part of the deal, South Korea transferred $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds to an account in Doha that U.S. officials say is restricted to humanitarian use.
The United States allows the transfer of $6 billion as part of the prisoner exchange with Iran
“President Biden has shown that he is prepared to make tough, difficult decisions,” Blinken said.
“I have no higher priority. The president has no higher priority than making sure that Americans who are unjustly detained anywhere can return home and we will continue that work.”
Blinken said the prisoner swap was a “different path” from other issues with Iran, such as its controversial nuclear program.
“We’ve been focused on working independently to bring these Americans home, so it doesn’t affect anything else in the relationship,” he said.