New Foreign Secretary Liz Truss to tell Iranian counterpart UK ‘is not going to give up’ fight for UK dual nationals to be detained by state household, Cabinet minister said .
Ms Truss is due to meet Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Monday, where the release of binationals – including Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe – is expected to be high on the agenda.
And Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said Ms Truss and the whole government “will not rest until we get them all home.”
On Monday, Mr Cleverly declined to say how many double British nationals are being held in Iran.
He told LBC: “I’m not going to discuss it this morning because, in fact, it’s not always in the best interests of the people that we are trying to help.”
He added: “It is not always in the best interest of individuals that their cases be made public. “
Prompted by host Nick Ferrari to ask if he knew the number, he said: “I know, I work on this all the time.”
But he told Sky News: “We will keep pushing and we won’t rest until we get them all home. Their incarceration is arbitrary, it is totally unjustified and we have made it clear that we will not stop working to bring these double British nationals home.
When asked how confident he was that Ms. Truss would succeed where others had failed, he replied, “Well, it’s never easy to negotiate with the Iranian leadership.
“But I have no doubt that she will… She is an incredibly focused and energetic minister, she is very well respected for it, and I have no doubt that she will apply that energy to these negotiations.”
Ms Truss is expected to bring up the cases of Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Anoosheh Ashoori and Morad Tahbaz, and will also call on the country to honor its nuclear commitments.
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband Richard said he had “good” talks with Ms Truss ahead of her meeting and told the Foreign Secretary in a 10-minute phone call on Sunday that his wife’s case should be the top priority and he wanted to see the government tackle the hostage-taking head-on.
Ms Truss said: “I will call on Iran to ensure the immediate and permanent release of all British nationals arbitrarily detained in Iran and to start working with us to mend our fractured relationship.
“The UK, US and our international partners are fully committed to a nuclear deal, but every day that Iran continues to delay talks while stepping up its own nuclear program means there are fewer space for diplomacy. “
Mr Ratcliffe’s wife, who has dual British and Iranian citizenship, has been detained in Iran since 2016 after being charged with conspiracy to overthrow the government.
Mr Ratcliffe said earlier that he gave Ms Truss the names of 10 people he accused of being involved in a “hostage-taking” in Iran.
He called on the foreign minister to make sure Iran is aware that this is an “unacceptable practice”.
Mr Ratcliffe added: ‘I thought it was a good phone call, I’m glad it happened, but also surprised it happened so quickly – I’m sure we’ll have more strident conversations. after returning from New York.
“The conversation was more open than you might have thought, she definitely listened to me which is obviously a good sign at first, but I’m still pessimistic, having had this conversation with her predecessors.
“The situation is as delicate and ambiguous as ever, but it is possible that Nazanin will be sent home and be returned to prison.
“At this point it would be helpful to see more action rather than reassuring words – but it’s a positive step, there has been a clear dialogue there.”
Sacha Deshmukh, Managing Director of Amnesty International UK, said: “One of the things we would urgently like to see from the new Foreign Minister is a clearly articulated strategy to secure the release of British nationals arbitrarily detained in Iran.
“The fate of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Anoosheh Ashoori and other British nationals detained in Iran has extended to the last four foreign secretaries – it is high time the UK finally brought this deeply distressing episode to an end .
Mr Cleverly told LBC: “We have made it clear to the Iranians and Liz (Truss) will make it clear to the Iranians that we are not, like I said, we are not going to give up on this.
“We will always fight on behalf of any British dual nationals in custody and the negotiations we have with Iran will continue until this is resolved.”