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New foreign secretary Liz Truss will on Wednesday demand the immediate release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and other British detainees being held in Iran when she meets her Iranian counterpart at the United Nations.
Ms Truss’s meeting with Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on the fringes of the UN general assembly in New York will be the first between Iran and the UK at foreign minister level since 2018. It was postponed from Monday after the Iranian delegation got stuck in Tajikistan and were unable to travel to the US.
The foreign secretary has followed her predecessor Dominic Raab in rejecting outright Iranian attempts to link Nazanin’s fate to the resolution of a egal case over the UK’s non-payment of a £400m debt relating to tanks sold to the country’s former shah before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the most prominent of a group of Anglo-Iranian dual nationals held by Tehran, will mark her 2,000th day detained in Iran on Thursday and her supporters have called for the Foreign Office to step up pressure on Iran by imposing sanctions on 10 officials seen as implicated in state hostage-taking since 1979.
The 10 Iranians – lawyers, jailers and propagandists – would be subject to UK travel bans and asset freezes.
First detained in 2016 after visiting Iran with her first child, aid worker Nazanin was sentenced to a further year’s prison in April after being found guilty of propaganda against the Iranian government. She denies all wrong-doing.
Speaking on the eve of her meeting, Truss said she would urge her Iranian counterpart to “ensure the immediate and permanent release of all arbitrarily detained British nationals in Iran, and to begin working with us to mend our fractured relations”.
She said she had spoke to Nazanin’s British husband Richard and assured him she would press his wife’s case “very firmly”.