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Iran Denies It Asked For US Consular Section To Open In Tehran

Abbas Mousavi, the spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry. File photo
Abbas Mousavi, the spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry. File photo

The spokesperson of the Islamic Republic Foreign Ministry, Abbas Mousavi, strongly denied Monday that Iran had requested the establishment of a U.S. consular section in the Swiss Embassy in Tehran.

Since Washington severed its diplomatic ties with the Islamic Republic in 1979, the Swiss Embassy has overseen U.S. interests in Iran.

Earlier on Sunday, October 3, the Wall Street Journal had cited an unnamed U.S. official as disclosing that Iran had recently requested the establishment of a consular service in the Swiss Embassy in Tehran.

"Iran hopes the consular service can be used to facilitate negotiations over prisoner swaps," WSJ quoted the unnamed official as saying.

The Islamic Republic Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, had earlier on September 24, admitted that Tehran's negotiations with the Swiss Embassy over swapping Iranian and American prisoners had failed.

Several Iranians are currently behind bars in the U.S. for disregarding Washington’s sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic.

In the meantime, several Iranian-Americans, including a businessman, Siamak Namazi, and his octogenarian father, Baquer, as well as environmentalists, Morad Tahbaz are held in custody in Iran on ambiguous charges.

The U.S. and human rights observers believe Iran arrests Westerners and dual citizens to use as bargaining chips in its dealings with the West.

Furthermore, a retired FBI agent, Robert Levinson, has disappeared mysteriously since March 9, 2007, in Kish Island, Iran.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Monday that the State Department's "Rewards for Justice Program" is now offering an additional $20 million for information leading to the location, recovery, and return of Robert Levinson. Combined with a $5 million reward already in place from the FBI, this makes a total of $25 million available.