- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Liz Truss will meet the Iranian foreign minister to call for the immediate release of UK nationals such as Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who are being detained in Iran.
The new Foreign Secretary will speak to Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, along with a number of her international counterparts, for the first time at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Monday.
Among the discussions will be UK nationals trapped in Iran, such as Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Anoosheh Ashoori and Morad Tahbaz. She will also call on the country to comply with its nuclear commitments.
Ms Truss said: "I will be asking Iran 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.
"The UK, US and our international partners are fully committed to a nuclear deal, but every day that Iran continues to delay talks whilst escalating its own nuclear programme means there is less space for diplomacy."
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband has said talks with Liz Truss over his wife's return from Iran went "well".
Richard Ratcliffe told the PA news agency: "It was a 10-minute phone call with the Foreign Secretary while she was at the airport today, she essentially spoke about the situation with Nazanin and assured me it was a concern of hers."
"It was nice to hear considering she is three days into the new job, and is earlier than expected."
"I think it went well overall, she asked me how I wanted to see things - I told her that Nazanin has been used as a bargaining chip of the Iranian government for some time and that I wanted to see Iranian hostage-taking disincentivised."
It comes as the family of Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe called on the new Foreign Secretary to sanction a list of ten Iranian individuals who have been directly involved in her case, accusing them of "hostage-taking".
Speaking on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday morning, Richard Ratcliffe said that he hoped Liz Truss - the fifth foreign secretary to have been in charge of the file since her detention in 2016 - would be “firm” and “brave” when she meets the Iranian foreign minister at the UN General Assembly in New York this week.
Thursday marks 2,000 days since Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in April 2016 on espionage charges. She is currently under house arrest in Tehran awaiting appeal on a second set of charges, having already completed her initial five year prison sentence.
This is the first time that the Free Nazanin campaign has asked for asset freeze and travel ban sanctions on the individual Iranians involved.
There are reportedly two more lists of individuals who could be sanctioned related to Mrs. Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case, which the campaign will release in the coming months.
The compiled dossiers of the Iranian officials most involved with hostage-taking are the work of lawyers and campaigners who have spoken to the families of several people who have been detained in Iran over apparent leverage.
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) September 19, 2021
“Hostage-diplomacy is growing - governments taking hostages for leverage - and unless the government steps up and makes it clear that it’s not acceptable on the UK’s part, then where do we think global Britain will go? It will mean many more people are taken,” Mr Ratcliffe said.
“One of the key problems I feel in these past years is there has been no cost on the Iranian side to carry on holding Nazanin, to carry on holding others, and so we've seen that now there are more British citizens in prison than there were when Nazanin was first taken."
As with other dual nationals who have been detained in Iran on spying charges, Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s family have been repeatedly told that her detention relates to a £400 million debt to Iran that the UK refuses to pay.