TNT – Vietnam and Iran News Posted by TNT Members 9-18-2023

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TNT:

PM leaves Hanoi for high-level week of UN General Assembly’s 78th session  | Vietnam+ (9/18/23)

Hanoi (VNA) – Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and a high-ranking delegation of Vietnam left Hanoi on September 17 afternoon for the US to attend the high-level week of the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly, and conduct bilateral activities in the country.

The PM is accompanied by Minister of Public Security General To Lam, Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son, Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung, Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Hong Dien, Minister of Finance Ho Duc Phoc, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Van Hung, Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung, Minister of Health Dao Hong Lan

Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Dang Quoc Khanh, Vice Chairman of the Government Office Nguyen Xuan Thanh, Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Nguyen Quoc Dung, Permanent Representative of Vietnam to the UN Dang Hoang Giang, and Vietnamese Consul General in San Francisco Hoang Anh Tuan.

The General Debate of the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly will take place under the theme of “Rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity: Accelerating action on the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals towards peace, prosperity, progress and sustainability for all.”

As an active and responsible member of the international community, and with positions in many major multilateral mechanisms, Vietnam has made effective and substantial contributions in all aspects at the multilateral forums, especially the UN.

Joining the General Debate, Vietnam continues to pursue its foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, peace, cooperation, and development, diversification and multilateralisation of relations, and further deepening these relations. 

As part of his trip to the US from September 17-23, Chinh will conduct bilateral activities to deepen the bilateral Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, concretise outcomes of the recent visit to Vietnam by President Joe Biden, and implement agreements and commitments made by the high-ranking leaders of the two countries in the spirit of the joint statement on elevating the Vietnam-US relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership for peace, cooperation and sustainable development.

https://en.vietnamplus.vn/pm-leaves-hanoi-for-highlevel-week-of-un-general-assemblys-78th-session/268093.vnp

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Harambe:  AP News: $6 billion in Iranian assets once frozen in South Korea now in Qatar, key for prisoner swap with US (9/18/23)

 DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran and the United States will exchange prisoners on Monday after some $6 billion once frozen in South Korea reached Qatar, a key element of the planned swap, officials said.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani was the first to acknowledge the swap would take place Monday. He said the cash sought for the exchange was now in Qatar. 

An individual with direct knowledge of the deal, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity given the exchange had yet to be concluded, said that both Iranian and U.S. officials had been notified by Qatar that the money had been transferred from Switzerland into the Gulf Arab nation.

Kanaani made his comments during a news conference aired on state television, but the feed cut immediately after his remarks without explanation. 

“We witnessed freezing of parts Iranian assets in some countries including South Korea,” Kanaani said. “As part of our policy of active foreign diplomacy, fortunately Iran’s frozen assets in South Korea were released and God willing today the assets will start to be fully controlled by the government and the nation.”

“On the subject of the prisoner swap, it will happen today and five prisoners, citizens of the Islamic Republic, will be released from the prisons in the U.S.,” Kanaani added. “Five imprisoned citizens who were in Iran will be given to the U.S. side reciprocally, based on their will. We expect these two issues fully take place based on the agreement.”

He said two of the Iranian prisoners will stay in the U.S.

Iranian news agencies immediately afterward reported, quoting Kanaani, that the prisoner swap would be done on Monday. There was no other information immediately released by the agencies and Washington did not acknowledge the comments. 

The announcement by Kanaani comes weeks after Iran said that five Iranian-Americans are now under house arrest as part of a confidence-building move while Seoul allowed the frozen assets, held in South Korean won, to be converted into euros. That money was then sent to Qatar, an interlocutor between Tehran and Washington in the negotiations. 

The planned swap has unfolded amid a major American military buildup in the Persian Gulf, with the possibility of U.S. troops boarding and guarding commercial ships in the Strait of Hormuz, through which 20% of all oil shipments pass. 

The deal has also already opened President Joe Biden to fresh criticism from Republicans and others who say that the administration is helping boost the Iranian economy at a time when Iran poses a growing threat to U.S. troops and Mideast allies. That could carry over into his reelection campaign as well. 

On the U.S. side, Washington has said the planned swap includes Siamak Namazi, who was detained in 2015 and was later sentenced to 10 years in prison on internationally criticized spying charges; Emad Sharghi, a venture capitalist sentenced to 10 years; and Morad Tahbaz, a British-American conservationist of Iranian descent who was arrested in 2018 and also received a 10-year sentence.

U.S. official have so far declined to identify the fourth and fifth prisoner.

The five prisoners Iran has said it seeks are mostly held over allegedly trying to export material to Iran. 

The final dollar amount from Seoul could be anywhere between $6 billion to $7 billion, depending on exchange rates. The cash represents money South Korea owed Iran — but had not yet paid — for oil purchased before the Trump administration imposed sanctions on such transactions in 2019. 

The U.S. maintains that, once in Qatar, the money will be held in restricted accounts and will only be able to be used for humanitarian goods, such as medicine and food. Those transactions are currently allowed under American sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic over its advancing nuclear program.

Iranian government officials have largely concurred with that explanation, though some hard-liners have insisted, without providing evidence, that there would be no restrictions on how Tehran spends the money.

Iran and the U.S. have a history of prisoner swaps dating back to the 1979 U.S. Embassy takeoverand hostage crisis following the Islamic Revolution. Their most recent major exchange happened in 2016, when Iran came to a deal with world powers to restrict its nuclear program in return for an easing of sanctions.

Four American captives, including Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, flew home from Iran at the time, and several Iranians in the U.S. won their freedom. That same day, President Barack Obama’s administration airlifted $400 million in cash to Tehran.

Iran has received international criticism over its targeting of people with dual citizenship. The West accuses Iran of using foreign prisoners as bargaining chips, an allegation Tehran rejects.

Negotiations over a major prisoner swap faltered after then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the nuclear deal in 2018. From the following year on, a series of attacks and ship seizures attributed to Iran have raised tensions.

Meanwhile, Iran’s nuclear program now enriches closer than ever to weapons-grade levels. While the head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog has warned that Iran now has enough enriched uranium to produce “several” bombs, months more would likely be needed to build a weapon and potentially miniaturize it to put it on a missile — if Iran decided to pursue one. The U.S. intelligence community has maintained its assessment that Iran is not pursuing an atomic bomb.

Iran has taken steps in recent months to settle some issues with the International Atomic Energy Agency. But the advances in its program have led to fears of a wider regional conflagration as Israel, itself a nuclear power, has said it would not allow Tehran to develop the bomb. Israel bombed both Iraq and Syria to stop their nuclear programs, giving the threat more weight as it also is suspected in carrying out a series of killings targeting Iran’s nuclear scientists. 

Iran also supplies Russia with the bomb-carrying drones Moscow uses to target sites in Ukraine in its war on Kyiv, which remains another major dispute between Tehran and Washington.

https://apnews.com/article/iran-us-prisoner-swap-sanctions-assets-4e1fa477f8e6af45fb764acd259c2f1a

Harambe:  Iran expected to free five Americans in prisoner exchange | BBC News (9/18/23)

 Five Americans jailed in Iran are expected to fly home as part of a deal mediated by the Gulf state of Qatar. 

The four men and one woman, who also hold Iranian passports, will board a plane once it is confirmed that $6bn (£4.8bn) in Iranian funds once held in South Korea have reached banks in Doha. 

This is part of a deal reached last month after a year of indirect talks.  

Five Iranians imprisoned in US jails, mainly on charges of violating US sanctions, will also be released.

The Americans detained in Iran’s notorious Evin prison were told many times before they would soon be freed. Now it seems that will finally happen on Monday morning.

They are reported to include 51-year-old Siamak Namazi; 59-year-old businessman Emad Shargi; and 67-year-old environmentalist Morad Tahbaz, who also holds British citizenship.

President Biden has long been urged to bring home Americans widely seen as hostages used by Iran as bargaining chips. 

For Iran, this deal frees money it earned from selling oil to South Korea – although the funds deposited in Qatar banks can only be used by third parties to purchase goods such as food and medicine.

The swap is complex and controversial. 

It is being condemned by leading US Republicans and Iranian activists who say it will only encourage more hostage taking. 

But this looks set to be a day of huge relief and joy for prisoners and their loved ones.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-66841137

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Tishwash:  Iran: The prisoner exchange process with America will take place today.. What about the frozen funds?

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Nasser Kanaani, said on Monday, September 18, 2023, that a prisoner exchange with the United States will take place today and includes five Iranian prisoners and five American prisoners, according to what Reuters reported 

While the official Iranian news agency quoted Kanaani as saying: “Two of these people will return to Iran and one person will go to a third country to be with his family.” Two other people have expressed their desire to remain in America, and in return 5 prisoners will be extradited to America.”

Regarding Iranian funds frozen in…South Korea, Kanaani said that she would be in possessionTehranHe added: “Some of our property and resources have been frozen in…South KoreaAs a result of the repressive measures ofWashingtonAnd the pressure it put on some partnersIranToday, these properties are at disposalIranCompletely.”

For its part, the agency reportedReutersAccording to an undisclosed source, Qatar confirmed to…WashingtonAndTehranTransferring Iranian funds worth $6 billion to banks in…DohaShe added that a Qatari plane was inIranIt is preparing to transfer 5 Americans who will be released soon and two of their relatives to…Doha.

The prisoner exchange agreement, brokered by Qatar and announced on August 10, allows the departure of five American citizens detained in…IranIn exchange for transferring money to banks in Qatar and releasing five Iranians detained in the United States.

Last week, Iranian state media reported that Abdullahian, in a phone conversation with his Qatari counterpart, praised DoreDohaThe builder during the negotiations that lasted for months and resulted in the conclusion of the agreement.

Official Iranian media also quoted Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed binAbdul Rahman Al ThaniThe process of transferring the released Iranian funds to Qatari banks will take place soon, perhaps next week.

In the same context, Qatar News Agency “QNA” reported last Thursday that the Iranian Foreign Minister thanked the State of Qatar. “For its role in facilitating reaching the Iranian-American agreement on the exchange of prisoners,” during a phone call with his Qatari counterpart, the Prime MinisterAbdul Rahman Al Thani.

In turn, the Qatari official confirmed the commitmentThe State of QatarBy supporting all regional and international efforts aimed at achieving security and stability in the region. link