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US says burden on Iran to de-escalate following prisoner deal

Biden administration officials say they expect Iran to take de-escalatory steps and they'll continue to exercise a variety of options to deter any aggressive moves in the Persian Gulf region.
People walk past a mural painting showing the founder of the Islamic republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and the national flag along the wall of the former US embassy in the Iranian capital Tehran on June 22, 2019.

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is watching closely for signs that Iran intends to lower tensions in the region amid an unfolding deal that has led Tehran to move four imprisoned US citizens to house arrest ahead of their anticipated release.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday said US officials remain focused on returning those Americans and one additional US citizen home, adding that diplomatic engagement with Iran on other issues, such as reining in the country’s nuclear program, is not possible until Iran shows signs of de-escalation.

“Nothing about our overall approach to Iran has changed. We continue to pursue a strategy of deterrence, of pressure and diplomacy,” Blinken told reporters during a press briefing in Washington.

“We’ve been clear that Iran must de-escalate to create space for future diplomacy,” the top diplomat said. “The move of our detainees out of prison and to home detention is not linked to any other aspect of our Iran policy.”

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