Truss to hold talks with Iran to seek release of Zaghari-Ratcliffe

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Liz Truss will demand the immediate release of UK citizens detained in Iran – including Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe – during a meeting with the country’s foreign minister on Monday.

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The new foreign secretary is to hold talks with Hussein Amir-Abdullahian at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where he will take up the case of charitable activist among others.

Monday’s meeting will be the first time the two officials have met and will come after Ms Zagari-Ratcliffe’s husband, Richard Ratcliffe, said he would speak with Ms Truss on Sunday and urged her to make the issue a “top priority”.

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Ms Truss would also raise the country’s nuclear program with the caveat that every day that resumed without talks had “less room for diplomacy”.

Ms Truss said: “I would ask Iran to begin working with us to ensure the immediate and permanent release of all British nationals arbitrarily detained in Iran and to mend our broken ties.

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“The UK, the US and our international partners are fully committed to a nuclear deal, but every day when Iran delays talks while pursuing its own nuclear program it means there is less room for diplomacy. “

Mr Ratcliffe said on Sunday he had given Truss the names of 10 people he accused of being involved in “hostage-taking” in Iran.

His wife, a British-Iranian dual national, has been in custody in the country since 2016 after being accused of plotting to overthrow the government.

Mr Ratcliffe told the BBC Andrew Marr Show: “I got a call with the Foreign Secretary today, talking to him for two days on the job is definitely a positive sign.

“Partly I just want to hear that this is a top priority and that Nazanin and others who are being kept as bargaining chips will be brought home.

“This coming week she (Ms Truss) will be meeting with the new Iranian Foreign Minister in New York when they are finished for the UN event, so hopefully there will be positive conversations.

“Right now I think enough should be enough, and Iran should be given a really clear signal that you can’t use innocent people in this way.

“I really want them to persevere, be brave and take some obvious steps.”

Amnesty International UK chief executive, Sacha Deshmukh, said: “One of the things we most urgently want to see from the new Foreign Secretary is a clear mandate to secure the release of British nationals arbitrarily detained in Iran. There is a clear strategy.

“The plight of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Anousheh Ashuri and other UK nationals held in Iran extends to the last four foreign secretaries – it was only a matter of time before the UK finally ended this deeply distressing episode.”

Ms Truss replaced Dominic Raab in Boris Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle last week as business secretary, laying the Tory grassroots in his efforts to forge new post-Brexit deals around the world.

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Credit: www.independent.co.uk /

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