US, Iran Use Swiss as Go-Between to Negotiate Release of Americans Held in Iran

Despite nearly going to war, the U.S. and Iran have kept a channel open to discuss the possible release of prisoners

Iranian Presidency - Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Iran and the U.S. came to the brink of war in January but the two sides are still keeping open a diplomatic channel to discuss the fate of Americans imprisoned in Iran, according to multiple sources familiar with the talks, NBC News reports.

The communication is indirect, with messages passed through the Swiss government, which has handled U.S. interests in Tehran since the U.S. and Iran severed diplomatic relations 40 years ago.

The Swiss ambassador to Iran, Markus Leitner, has made frequent trips to Washington in recent months to relay information on the prisoners' status and messages from Tehran, a European diplomat and two sources familiar with the matter told NBC News.

Private individuals working on behalf of the relatives of those held in Iran, including former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and his associates, are also engaged in discussions with Iran in hopes of securing the release of U.S. citizens in Iranian prisons.

Read the full story on NBCNews.com.

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