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UK’s Johnson speaks to Rouhani, urges Iran to free all dual nationals

In phone call, British PM presses case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe; also calls on Tehran to reverse breaches of nuclear deal

In this photo released by official website of the Office of the Iranian Presidency, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, right, greets then British foreign secretary Boris Johnson at the start of their meeting in Tehran, Iran, December 10, 2017. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)
In this photo released by official website of the Office of the Iranian Presidency, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, right, greets then British foreign secretary Boris Johnson at the start of their meeting in Tehran, Iran, December 10, 2017. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday told Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani to free all dual nationals, including one woman who faces further court action despite her sentence having ended.

“The Prime Minister raised the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and other British-Iranian Dual Nationals detained in Iran and demanded their immediate release,” Johnson’s Downing Street office said in a statement.

Following the official conclusion of Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s five-year sentence for sedition in Iran on Sunday, Britain has called for her to be able to return to her family in the UK.

The former aid worker, 42, had an ankle tag removed and was allowed to leave home detention to visit relatives in Tehran on the day she was supposed to be freed.

An undated file photo provided by the family of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual national detained in Iran. (Family of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe via AP, File)

But she now faces another court appearance in Iran next Sunday, confounding hopes among her family, friends and supporters of an immediate return home.

Downing Street said Johnson had told Rouhani “while the removal of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s ankle monitor was welcome, her continued confinement remains completely unacceptable.”

On Sunday, Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband, Richard Ratcliffe, said she was “genuinely happy” to have been given a greater degree of freedom but he cautioned she “remained in harm’s way” with the fresh court summons hanging over her.

Johnson and Rouhani also discussed negotiations to resurrect Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Britain has remained one of the signatories to the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), despite US withdrawal under former president Donald Trump in 2018.

“The Prime Minister also stressed that while the UK remains committed to making the Iran nuclear deal a success, Iran must stop all its nuclear activity that breaches the terms of the JCPOA and come back into compliance,” his office said.

“He stressed the importance of Iran seizing the opportunity presented by the United States’ willingness to return to the deal if Iran comes back into compliance,” it added.

Illustrative: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visits the Bushehr nuclear power plant just outside of Bushehr, Iran, Jan. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Iranian Presidency Office, Mohammad Berno, File)

Britain, along with France and Germany, has criticized Iran for failing to comply with the nuclear deal and grant unfettered access to the UN’s nuclear watchdog to its sites.

US President Joe Biden has signaled a readiness to return to the nuclear deal.

But Washington said on Wednesday it would not look to revive the accord before Iranian elections in June, which are expected to fall in the favor of a more hardline president in Tehran.

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