Clinton shuts down Iranian prisoner trade offer

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
February 4, 2010 02:08

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ruled out on Wednesday Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's suggestion that three detained American hikers in Iran be swapped for Iranian citizens held in the United States.

Clinton said the hikers, along with other Americans jailed in Iran, should be released immediately on humanitarian grounds. She said there is there is no basis for their continued detention.

"We call on Iran to release all of the American citizens that they have currently detained," she told reporters. "We believe they are being unjustly detained, and they should be released without further delay. We also are very committed to making it clear to the Iranians that they should do so on humanitarian grounds since the detention of our citizens is baseless."

Her comments came a day after Ahmadinejad suggested in a television interview that the three American hikers be traded for Iranians that Teheran says are currently in US jails. Ahmadinejad also suggested talks were under way regarding such a swap, which Clinton denied.

"There are no negotiations going on between us and the Iranians," she said. "They should unilaterally release our detained citizens."


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