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ALM Special

Inside Qatar’s key role in US-Iran prisoner swap

Majed Al-Ansari, an adviser to the Qatari prime minister, details the behind-the-scenes diplomacy that led to the prisoner deal, and why Doha believes there now exists a “platform for dialogue” between Iran and the United States.
Ansari Hagedorn

NEW YORK — The diplomatic breakthrough that brought five wrongfully detained Americans home from Iran followed two years of quiet negotiations led by Qatar that could pave the way for future dialogue, a senior Qatari official told Al-Monitor. 

On Tuesday, a US government plane carrying a group of Americans, including longtime prisoners Siamak Namazi, Morad Tahbaz and Emad Shargi, arrived in the United States as part of an agreement that also saw Tehran gain access to billions in frozen funds to be used for non-sanctioned purposes. 

“The beginning [of the negotiations] was very difficult,” Majed Al-Ansari, an adviser to the Qatari prime minister, said during the Al-Monitor/Semafor Middle East Global Summit in New York on Wednesday. 

“The discussion was always one-sided,” he said. “It was very difficult to get points across.”

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