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Iran: UK’s debt payment has nothing to do with release of dual citizens

Iran has rejected any link between London’s payment of its overdue debt to Tehran and the release of two British-Iranian nationals jailed for involvement in espionage activities against the Islamic Republic.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday night, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said following “lengthy negotiations,” the UK government recently paid its debt to the Iranian nation “with a delay of more than 40 years.”

Unfortunately, he added, London was using political issues as a pretext to avoid repaying its debt during all these years. 

Khatibzadeh also noted that Iran’s Judiciary decided to free British-Iranians Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anousheh Ashouri, who had served part of their prison sentence, on the basis of “Islamic leniency and humanitarian considerations.”

“From Iran’s point of view, there is no connection between the payment of the debt and the release of the aforesaid prisoners. Last summer, Britain had already agreed to pay its debt to Iran and the two signed a document, but unfortunately the UK government refused to make good on that,” he said.

“I emphasize that the Islamic Republic of Iran has never backed down from its position on reclaiming the rights of the (Iranian) people,” he asserted.

Meanwhile, Khatibzadeh praised the “constructive and valuable” role played by the brotherly and friendly country of Oman in the process.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Ashoori arrived back in Britain from Iran shortly after 1 a.m. local time on Thursday.

They arrived at the military airbase of Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, England, after flying back via a brief stopover in Oman. 

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told Sky News on Wednesday that she had made Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case a priority, adding that she had also made repaying the Iranian debt a priority.

“We have been clear this is a legitimate debt that we do owe Iran and we have been seeking ways to pay it,” Truss said.

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