Releasing American citizens who have been unjustly held against their will by foreign governments is a top priority for the United States. So far, more than 40 hostages and detainees have been brought home since President Donald Trump took office.
In June, Americans celebrated the release of U.S. Navy veteran Michael White from Iranian custody. Mr. White had been wrongfully detained in Iran for almost two years. The United States negotiated and secured his release with notable help from the Swiss government. As part of the agreement between the parties, charges were dropped on Majid Taheri, a Florida dermatologist who had violated U.S. sanctions on Iran.
At a press briefing, U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook said that such a successful diplomatic outcome on the consular level “builds confidence that [the United States and Iran] are able to negotiate agreements that advance the interests of both countries.”
“There is no question that if we could reach an agreement, a comprehensive agreement . . . it would advance the interests of the Iranian people. They’re very tired of seeing their national wealth squandered in places like other countries in the Middle East and also in places like Venezuela.”
He pointed to the benefits a new deal would bring to Iran, including lifting sanctions and restoring diplomatic and economic ties.
Special Representative Hook noted that Iran has so far declined the opportunity for deeper dialogue and engagement. Because of this, the United States has pursued a three-fold policy toward the Iranian regime: maximum economic pressure, diplomatic isolation, and the credible threat of military force to defend U.S. interests.
That policy, Mr. Hook declared, has denied Iran’s leaders money for their malign activities. It is also the way “to advance the President’s goal of bringing them to the negotiating table.”
“The President has had the door open for diplomacy for many years,” said Special Representative Hook. “A new and better deal will certainly benefit the people of the United States and the people of Iran. And so the door remains open.”