Iran's foreign minister says U.S. must 'prove that it's serious' ahead of prisoner swap negotiations

Iran's foreign minister says U.S. must 'prove that it's serious' ahead of prisoner swap negotiations
© Getty Images

Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif said in an interview airing Sunday that the U.S. must "prove that it's serious" before prisoner exchange negotiations begin. 

Zarif made the comment after CBS host Margaret Brennan asked him whether he would, "as a show of...seriousness" release some of the at least five Americans who are incarcerated in Iran, according to a transcript provided to The Hill Saturday. 

"We’re not supposed to show seriousness because we have shown our seriousness by implementing the nuclear deal," Zarif said in an interview that will air Sunday. "It’s the United States that needs to prove that it's serious." 


He added that he was not connecting the deal, which President TrumpDonald TrumpPoll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary Biden flexes presidential muscle on campaign trail with Virginia's McAuliffe Has Trump beaten the system? MORE pulled out of last year, with prisoner exchange negotiations, but was simply citing it as an example of demonstrated reliability by Iran. 

"We're not linking the two," he said.

"We've shown that when we say something, we abide by it," he added. "The United States has shown that when we say- it- they say something they will- they will then decide whether they want to abide by it or not."

Zarif also said during the interview that Iran has responded to an offer the U.S. made on the matter and is awaiting a reply. 

A State Department spokesperson told The Hill in a statement Saturday that Iran can show that it is serious by releasing "innocent U.S. persons." 

"The Iranian regime can demonstrate its seriousness regarding consular issues, including Iranians who have been indicted or convicted of criminal violations of US sanctions laws, by releasing innocent U.S. persons immediately," the spokesperson said. 

"We call on Iran to free all unjustly detained and missing U.S. persons, including Xiyue Wang, Robert Levinson, Siamak Namazi, and Nizar Zakka, among others," the spokesperson added.