CBS’s “Face the Nation,” host Margaret Brennan asked Sullivan if hostage negotiations had begun, noting that at least five American hostages are being held in Iran.
“We intend to very directly communicate with the Iranians about the complete and utter outrage, the humanitarian catastrophe that is the unjust, unlawful detention of American citizens in Iran,” Sullivan said.
“We have begun to communicate with the Iranians on this issue, yes,” Sullivan continued. “And we will continue to do so as we go forward. And our strong message to the Iranians will be that it- we will not accept a long-term proposition where they continue to hold Americans in an unjust and unlawful manner. It will be a significant priority of this administration to get those Americans safely back home.”
Brennan also asked if Tehran had responded to an offer last week from the U.S. and European Union to meet about the 2015 nuclear deal and whether the offer still stood, given that Iran had said it would reduce some access granted to the international community’s nuclear watchdog.
“It is Iran that is isolated now diplomatically, not the United States. And the ball is in their court,” Sullivan said.
The Fars News Agency (FNA), Iran’s semi-official news agency, after the interview shared a statement from Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman that shot down reports that direct talks have begun.
“We have received some messages from the Swiss Embassy regarding the exchange of prisoners,” the spokesman said in a translated Tweet from FNA. “The release of Iranian prisoners in US prisons is our priority, but there has been no direct dialogue, and this is not true.”
Switzerland represents the U.S.’s interests in Iran.
سخنگوی وزارت امور خارجه: برخی پیامهایی از طریق سفارت سوئیس در خصوص تبادل زندانیان دریافت کردیم. آزادی زندانیان ایرانی در زندانهای آمریکا اولویت ماست اما هیچ گفتوگوی مستقیمی در کار نبوده و این موضوع درست نیست.