British foreign secretary visits Iran for nuclear talks

Jeremy Hunt will hold talks with Iran's foreign minister on the international nuclear agreement

Britain's top diplomat said Iran's hardline regime must release people including charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is now being held on disputed spying charges.

In the meantime, the Guardian reported that Hunt had an agenda to make a personal appeal for the release of the Iranian-British dual-national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe on humanitarian grounds.

She is serving a five-year jail sentence for spying, a charge she has always contested.

Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, has campaigned exhaustively for her release, saying she is suffering extreme mental and physical hardship at the notorious Elvin.

The official IRNA news agency said Hunt and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also discussed ways of ending the war in Yemen, where Iran supports the Houthi rebels against a Saudi-led coalition.

"So I arrive in Iran with a clear message for the country's leaders: putting innocent people in prison can not and must not be used as a tool of diplomatic leverage".

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The previous month she had been granted a three-day release but her request for an extension was denied and she was forced to say goodbye to her four-year-old daughter, Gabriella, and return to jail.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt was to visit Iran for the first time on Monday for talks about the nuclear deal and freeing United Kingdom nationals held in Iranian jails.

The European signatories of the deal-the UK, France, and Germany-have been actively trying to find ways to make sure Iran sticks to the agreement, doubling down on these efforts after Tehran threatened to revive its nuclear program after the United States' exit if the European Union signatories failed to find a way to continue buying Iranian crude oil after the USA sanctions returned. The UK's decision not to follow suit has caused a rift between the two allies and was reportedly one of several topics that Trump took British Prime Minister Theresa May to task over in a recent phone call.

"The Iran nuclear deal remains a vital component of stability in the Middle East by eliminating the threat of a nuclearised Iran".

"It (the nuclear deal) needs 100 percent compliance though to survive", the British foreign secretary stressed, according to Reuters.

Cuba hopes a special payment system the European Union is creating to get round U.S. sanctions on Iran will help it sidestep its own Washington-imposed trade embargo, a senior official told AFP on Monday.

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