Iran and the United States achieved significant diplomatic progress a few hours ago after years of diplomatic tensions. Tehran freed five imprisoned Americans as part of an agreement with Washington, which involves the unlocking of 5.6 billion euros in Iranian funds and the release of five Iranian prisoners.

The pact was forged with the mediation of Qatar and its capital, Doha, has been chosen by both parties as a meeting point for the exchange. Thus, this Monday four American men and one woman left Tehran on a chartered flight to Doha, where they were received by senior American officials, before finally returning to their country.

The five prisoners had dual Iranian-American nationality and were detained under different circumstances. Among them is oil executive Siamak Namazi, who has spent eight years in prison; the environmentalist Morad Tahbaz, who was accused of espionage when he was filming a documentary about endangered animals; or Emad Shargi, who worked in the risk capital sector. The identity of the other two detainees has not been revealed. The United States insisted that the arrests had a political background.

US President Joe Biden celebrated that “five innocent Americans are finally returning home” after enduring “years of agony, uncertainty and suffering.” For its part, the United States released five Iranians detained on American soil. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani reported that two of the freed citizens will return to Iran, two others will remain in the United States and the fifth will join his family in a third country.

For his part, the president of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, avoided commenting on the pact with Washington and simply described the release of the detainees as “a purely humanitarian action.” “It certainly can be a step from which other humanitarian actions can be taken in the future,” he hinted to reporters in New York, where he will attend the UN General Assembly.

The agreement comes after months of indirect talks brokered by Qatar, which began in February last year. There were signs this summer that the talks may have made some progress, with the transfer of American prisoners from a jail to a safe house in Tehran. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani said that the release of prisoners is “one of the important issues” raised in these negotiations, without giving further details of what other issues they would be dealing with. While reviving the 2015 nuclear deal – which broke down under the administration of former US President Donald Trump – is not on the table, analysts speculate that Washington would be pressuring Tehran to limit uranium enrichment.

This Monday the United States also ordered the unblocking of some 5.6 billion euros of Iranian funds blocked in South Korea, which reached five Iranian accounts in Doha. These funds were blocked after the sanctions that the United States imposed on Iran in 2018. The assets are revenues from Iranian oil sales that were frozen and that Tehran had previously not spent for various reasons, including currency conversion difficulties, the agency noted. BBC. Iranian President Raisi assured that the funds “belong to the Iranian people” and that Iran will decide “what to do with this money”, however the current pact to unblock funds urges Tehran to use the money exclusively for humanitarian aid. Qatar is expected to monitor the use of these funds.