American airports are out of date
"Switzerland has done a great job"
The US has praised Switzerland for its mediation in the prisoner exchange with Iran and conveyed President Trump's thanks.
One scientist against another: The exchange of two prisoners that took place on Saturday is a surprising moment of relaxation in the relationship between the USA and Iran, which have recently been on the brink of an armed conflict on several occasions. Xiyue Wang, an American historian of Chinese origin, has been in a prison in Tehran since 2016. Massoud Soleimani, an Iranian stem cell researcher, was arrested in the United States last year. Both men were met by representatives from their respective countries on a tarmac at Zurich Airport. Wang received a US flag from Ed McMullen, the US ambassador in Bern, as a photo of the US embassy on Twitter shows.
The exchange came about thanks to the mediation of Switzerland. "The Swiss played a leading role in organizing the negotiations," said a high-ranking member of the US government in a background discussion with journalists on Saturday. The Swiss ambassador in Tehran, Markus Leitner, as well as the officials of the foreign department in Bern had “worked tirelessly towards the release of Mr. Wang”. The talks had been going on for a long time, but in the past three to four weeks the intensive phase had begun, which ended with the agreement on an exchange of prisoners. "We are very grateful for your efforts," said the US official about the role of Swiss diplomats. US Ambassador McMullen was full of praise in an interview with French-speaking Swiss television RTS: "Switzerland has done a great job."
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Jawad Sarif also expressed their thanks to Switzerland on Twitter. According to a report in the New York Times, the American Wang was brought to Zurich on board a plane belonging to the Swiss government. He traveled to Iran in 2016 as a PhD student at Princeton University to do archival research for his dissertation. Despite being issued a visa by the Iranian government, he was arrested in Iran and sentenced to ten years in prison for alleged espionage. The Iranian Soleimani was flown to Zurich on a US government plane. He was arrested at Chicago Airport in 2018 while on his way to a seminar in the United States. The US government accused him of violating US sanctions through smuggling.
Video: USA and Iran exchange prisoners at Zurich Airport
Xiyue Wang poses with Brian Hook, US State Department special envoy. (Video: Tamedia)
Still dependent on Swiss help?
The prisoner exchange takes place at a time of great tension between the two states. The government of President Donald Trump hopes that the deal will lead to further "success stories," said the senior government official at the background discussion. At least four other US citizens are currently in prison in Iran. “We hope that this will give us the momentum we need to bring the other Americans home. We haven't forgotten her. " Here, too, Switzerland could play an important role, said the official: "Our Swiss colleagues are extremely professional and motivated to support the United States."
The US cut its diplomatic relations with Iran forty years ago. Since then, Switzerland has represented US interests in Tehran. As a protecting power, it also provides consular assistance to US citizens.
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