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White House says U.S. communicating with Iran over detained Americans

EconomyFeb 21, 2021 01:50PM ET
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© Reuters. Press briefing at the White House in Washington

By Michael Martina

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday the United States had begun to communicate with Iran over the country's detention of American citizens, calling the matter a "complete and utter outrage".

Iran has arrested dozens of dual nationals, including several Americans, in recent years, mostly on espionage charges. Rights activists accuse the country of trying to use the detentions to win concessions from other countries, though Tehran dismisses the charge.

Sullivan told CBS News' "Face the Nation" that it was a "significant priority" of President Joe Biden's administration to get those Americans "safely back home."

"We have begun to communicate with the Iranians on this issue," Sullivan said when asked if the administration had started hostage negotiations with Iran.

"We will not accept a long-term proposition where they continue to hold Americans in an unjust and unlawful manner," he said, calling it a "humanitarian catastrophe".

Following Sullivan's remarks, an Iranian news website affiliated with Iran's Supreme National Security Council cited a source as saying that any communication between Tehran and Washington about detained U.S. citizens had been conducted via the Swiss embassy, which handles U.S. interests, rather than through any direct contact.

Sullivan added that Biden was determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and that diplomacy was the best way to do that.

The United States said last week it was ready to talk to Iran about both nations returning to a 2015 accord abandoned by the Trump administration that aimed to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons while lifting most international sanctions.

"Iran has not yet responded," Sullivan said.

The two countries have been at odds over who should take the first step to revive the deal. Iran's Foreign Ministry reiterated earlier on Sunday that the United States will not be able to rejoin the nuclear pact before it lifts sanctions. Washington says Tehran must first return to compliance.

Sullivan also told CBS that the United States will respond to the SolarWinds hack that hit several government agencies last year in "weeks, not months," as the United States investigates the suspected Russian cyberattack.

He said the response will include a mix of tools seen and unseen, and it will not simply consist of sanctions.

"We will ensure that Russia understands where the United States draws the line on this kind of activity," Sullivan said.

White House says U.S. communicating with Iran over detained Americans
 

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Comments (15)
Mart Bab
Rubberduck1973 Feb 21, 2021 5:47PM ET
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So now the USA is not trustworthy thank to Trump. So Forget any nuclear deal. And by the way, who cares anymore if Iran gets nuclear capacity. China has it. Not trustworthy. The USA has it. Not trustworthy. Russia has it. Not trustworthy. India, gb, etcetera. I think every country has the right to waste tax payers money on nuclear capacity. It’s up to the tax payers. Just stop messing up other people affairs and we will all do great.
Steve Lora
Steve Lora Feb 21, 2021 4:37PM ET
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Ad Cline is running to the principals office
Ad Cline
Ad Cline Feb 21, 2021 4:28PM ET
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joe Messer... your bigotry is showing.
Steve Lora
Steve Lora Feb 21, 2021 4:28PM ET
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Your 27 years in high school was well worth it
Ad Cline
Ad Cline Feb 21, 2021 4:28PM ET
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little stevy... your reply suggests you have a problem with people that have more education than you. that would explain your susceptibility mis information and debunked conspiracy theories.
Ad Cline
Ad Cline Feb 21, 2021 4:28PM ET
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little stevy.. if you're having trouble with big words let me know, I'll be glad to help you understand them.
Joe Messeri
Joe Messeri Feb 21, 2021 2:46PM ET
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Im sure Iran is shaking in their boots with this emasculated administration made up of LGBTQIAAEtc etc etc hah while they are busy chopping peoples heads off in Tehran. Im sure they are terrofoed of Senile Biden And ***harris
Steve Lora
Steve Lora Feb 21, 2021 2:46PM ET
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We must not forget the Biden secret service in leotards
Luis Angulo
Luis Angulo Feb 21, 2021 2:43PM ET
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América needs a war to reactive his economy! As usual. They are broken and they need a war
Steve Lora
Steve Lora Feb 21, 2021 2:43PM ET
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I see a cargo plan carrying 500 billion in cash
mehdi nagafi
mehdi nagafi Feb 21, 2021 2:43PM ET
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These were Trump's dirty party illusions. $ 500 billion with ten Tascatres of air can not be moved, my friend, do we not have the right to take our own oil money?
Ad Cline
Ad Cline Feb 21, 2021 2:43PM ET
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stevey lora another unfounded misleading statement.
Steve Lora
Steve Lora Feb 21, 2021 2:43PM ET
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With a typical payload from 12.5 tons to 40 tons, these aircraft can shift sizeable loads that can't be broken down and shipped on scheduled routes of an old cargo plane
Steve Lora
Steve Lora Feb 21, 2021 2:43PM ET
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Ad Cline I bet you go down on Joey
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Feb 21, 2021 2:43PM ET
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Steve Lora  Kindly adhere to the guidelines on this site while commenting. Thank you.
John Wim
John Wim Feb 21, 2021 2:37PM ET
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Maybe an off of another 100 billion might help
mehdi nagafi
mehdi nagafi Feb 21, 2021 2:27PM ET
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Biden is a good perezident or very very gentleman. The people of Iran love all Americans. Only when Trump was an instrument of the extremists and the clergy to use him as an excuse for a terrorist, and the people just hit him, not that Trump more than
mehdi nagafi
mehdi nagafi Feb 21, 2021 2:21PM ET
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😢
mehdi nagafi
mehdi nagafi Feb 21, 2021 2:21PM ET
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Biden is a theologian, the people of Iran, all Americans love them. Second, you do not have to say
Eudon Hickey
Eudon Hickey Feb 21, 2021 2:18PM ET
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Trump made peace and Biden create fights
mehdi nagafi
mehdi nagafi Feb 21, 2021 2:18PM ET
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😳😳☹oh!mygod
Me comment
Me comment Feb 21, 2021 2:05PM ET
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I still think they should turn Isreal loose on Tehran.
Justin Strange
Justin Strange Feb 21, 2021 12:17PM ET
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$DOGE coin
johnny perry
johnny perry Feb 21, 2021 12:15PM ET
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because their side won. that's why they don't talk about it.
Kelly Mayer
Kelly Mayer Feb 21, 2021 11:31AM ET
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SolarWinds is real, but foreign election electronic interference is not? how biased can these news articles get?
Tony Huynh
Tony Huynh Feb 21, 2021 11:31AM ET
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yeah why no one talk about Russia trying to influence the election.
Kelly Mayer
Kelly Mayer Feb 21, 2021 11:31AM ET
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There were about 20 countries in on it... the list is out there. China tops the list, followed by Russia, Germany etc etc
Ad Cline
Ad Cline Feb 21, 2021 11:31AM ET
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is spreading misinformation. Putin openly supported Trump that is a provin fact. your statement is an easily proven lie.
Ad Cline
Ad Cline Feb 21, 2021 11:31AM ET
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Kelly Mayer...supporter of trumps crimes against America. sidition insurrection.
Ad Cline
Ad Cline Feb 21, 2021 11:31AM ET
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Kelly Mayer...there was major articles in most major news outlets during the presidential campaign. where were you under a rock.
 
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