US not opposed to UK repaying Iran debt: Blinken

US not opposed to UK repaying Iran debt for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's release: Blinken

2 min read
07 May, 2021
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said a payment to Iran would not violate US sanctions.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been held in Iran since April 2016 [Getty]

US President Joe Biden would not be opposed to the UK repaying a historic debt to Iran to secure Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's release, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has said.

The British-Iranian national’s family say that she is being held "hostage" in Iran over a £400 million ($287.5m) debt owed by the UK, however Prime Minister Boris Johnson insists the two "are entirely separate issues".

The debt relates to tanks Iran purchased in the 1970s that were not delivered.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday, Blinken said the issue would be "a sovereign decision for the United Kingdom."

This comes after Iranian officials told state media over the weekend that it would free the 43-year-old once Britain paid the debt for owed for the tanks.

A British court has ordered that the money be repaid.

UK Foreign Office minister James Cleverly told Radio 4 that the debt issue "has dragged on for decades", and that negotiations are "ongoing".

Cleverly described the issue as a "multi-decade long problem," while also reiterating the UK prime minister's stance on its relation to Zaghari-Ratcliffe's detention.

"The reports that we had over the weekend linking that work with the incarceration and the arbitrary detention of British dual nationals I think was completely inappropriate - they are separate issues, one massively predates the other," Cleverly said.

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