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Zig’s Place Chat and News Monday AM 5-3-21

Zig:  Welcome to zig’s place, a chat room for dinar speculators and others….discuss any topic that you wish here

Butterfly  Corona and US Treasury bonds give gold a boost 05/03/2021

{Economic: The Euphrates News} Gold prices rose today, Monday, as they support the demand for the metal thanks to the decline in US Treasury bond yields and concerns about the increasing cases of Covid-19 in some countries.

Al-Mukhtasar al-Mufid .. In important news, you can find it on the Al Furat News channel on the Telegram .. To subscribe click here

By 04:18 GMT, spot gold gained 0.3 percent, to record $ 1773.90 an ounce. Trading volume in Asia was low due to a holiday in China and Japan. US gold futures rose 0.4 percent to $ 1773.90 an ounce.

“The pandemic situation in Japan and India remains a major concern among participants in market operations, and thus this is leading to an increase in demand for safe haven assets such as gold,” said Margaret Yang, analyst at DailyFX, adding that the decline in US Treasury yields has advanced. More support.

The yield on the US benchmark 10-year bonds fell, after hitting their highest levels in nearly two weeks last week. Lower bond yields reduce the opportunity cost of holding no-return gold.

As for other precious metals, palladium rose 0.6 percent to $ 2,953.19 an ounce after hitting an all-time high of $ 3,007.73 an ounce on Friday due to supply concerns.

Silver increased 0.3 percent to $ 25.97 an ounce. Platinum rose 0.5 percent to $ 1,204.63.

butterfly   Minister of Planning: Using international companies to address the problems of implementing mega projects

05/03/2021   {Economical: Al Furat News} The Minister of Planning, Khaled Battal Al-Najm, discussed today, Monday, with the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Iraq, Salem Al-Zaabi, bilateral relations between the two countries in various fields and ways to develop them.

Al-Mukhtasar al-Mufid .. In important news, you can find it on the Al Furat News channel on the Telegram .. To subscribe, click here

The Minister of Planning confirmed during the meeting, according to a statement of the ministry, which the Al-Furat News Agency received a copy of, that “the ministry is moving towards seeking the help of specialized international consulting companies to take advantage of them in developing the appropriate mechanisms for contracting and addressing all the problems facing the implementation of mega projects, whose cost amounts to 500 million dollars or more. “.

He stated that “the United Arab Emirates has good experience in this field, as evidenced by the developmental renaissance and great scientific development this country is witnessing,” noting at the same time that “the possibility of benefiting from the UAE’s experience in achieving electronic government.”

butterfly  Sallyport wins $240m Iraq Contract 3rd May 2021 US-based Sallyport Global Holdings, part of the Caliburn International group, has been awarded a not-to-exceed $240,000,000 cost-plus-fixed-fee undefinitized contract action to provide base operations support, base life support, and security services in the support of the Iraq F-16 program.

Work will be performed on Balad Air Base, Iraq, and is expected to be completed by Jan. 30, 2022.

This contract is the result of a sole-source acquisition and involves Foreign Military Sales to Iraq.

Foreign Military Sales funds and foreign military funds in the amount of $117,600,000 are being obligated at the time of the award.

Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8630-21-C-6005).   (Source: US Dept of Defense)

butterfly  Market Review: “On the Economics of Coiled springs, Crouching Tigers, and Chicken Lickens” 3rd May 2021 The market, as measured by the Rabee Securities RSISX USD Index, continued its string of gains for the third month in a row, ending up 6.6% in April, and 24.4% for the year.

The same positive trends – i.e., increased daily turnover, foreign and local buying ­- that drove the rally year-to-date continued into early April in which the market was up about 10.5% from the end of the prior month.

However, the market couldn’t sustain these gains and profit taking eroded them as prices declined somewhat on lower turnover suggesting that the market is in the process of consolidating the recent gains (chart below).

butterfly   Supporting the market’s consolidation thesis are recent economic data which suggest that conditions are in place for a solid rebound in the Iraqi economy from the depressed levels in 2020 along the lines articulated by Andy Haldane, the Bank of England’s chief economist, as “the economics of coiled springs, and crouching tigers, and ‘Chicken Lickens” in expecting a “rapid-fire recovery” for the UK economy as it emerges from last year’s depressed levels.

Iraq’s extreme leverage to oil prices created the conditions for a perfect storm in 2020 as the double whammy of the crash in oil prices and the COVID-19 lockdowns crushed its economy with the IMF forecasting, as recently as December, that Iraq’s real GDP would shrink by 11% year-over-year in 2020. With the reversal of these same forces in 2021, the same extreme leverage to oil prices would create the conditions for a strong economic rebound from these extreme low levels.

The “coiled spring” that would kickstart the economic rebound is the meaningful increase in government spending in 2021, following the delayed passage of the 2021 budget at the end of March. The oversized role of the government’s expenditures in the economy with the government as the largest formal employer and driver of non-oil economy, results in an efficient and direct transmission mechanism of oil revenues into the real economy.

The government’s projected spending on the public sector wage bill (salaries and pensions) is projected to grow by about 18% in 2021 over 2020’s bill and would represent a 7% stimulus to 2020’s IMF estimated non-oil GDP.

This increased spending would provide a boost to consumer confidence following a difficult year in which this spending was in doubt as the government struggled to pay the public sector wage bill on time given the fiscal crisis that strained its finances. Government spending on goods and services is likely to rebound significantly in 2021 and could add about another 7% stimulus to the non-oil economy.

butterfly  The government’s investment spending will see a much larger rebound, from an extremely low base, representing an additional 11% stimulus to the non-oil economy. Given the government’s historically very low execution rates in investment spending and its capacity constraints, it will be its current spending, in the form of the public sector payroll and spending on goods and services, that will kickstart the country’s economic rebound which could be much higher than the IMF’s projected 5.0% real growth in non-oil GDP in 2021.

This increased spending is likely to magnify the effect of the current “coiled spring” in the form of the expanded monetary base, or M0, which has accelerated in the first three months of 2021, aided by a rebound in oil revenues (charts below). This comes on top of sizeable liquidity injections in 2020:

The first was the adoption of an accommodative monetary policy by the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) to counter the effects of the pandemic-induced disruptions to the economy; while the second was a result of the indirect monetary financing provided by the CBI to the government to cover its revenue shortfalls.

This expansion in the monetary base, is especially relevant to economic activity given the dominance of cash in the economy in which over 90% of the currency in circulation is outside of the banking system.

butterfly   (Source: Central Bank of Iraq, Ministry of Oil, Asia Frontier Capital Research, data as of March 30th)

Latent consumer spending could be like a “crouching tiger” given the increased pickup in economic activity that has returned to levels meaningfully above those that prevailed just before the nationwide lockdown in March of last year, as seen from Google’s mobility data (below chart). In particular, activity in the crucial sectors of retail and grocery has recovered up to 40-100% above the levels that prevailed pre-lockdown. The onset of the fasting month of Ramdan in mid-April, has somewhat curtailed activity but has not altered the trajectory of recovery

butterfly   Source: Google, data as of April 25th)  While Google’s mobility data provides a picture of economic activity and not transactions, yet some clues on economic transactions can be glimpsed from the volumes for USD-Iraqi Dinar (IQD) transactions (chart below) as conducted by the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) in its weekly USD sales (transfers to facilitate foreign trade transactions as indicated by green bars and to satisfy the need for physical USD for Iraqi’s travelling abroad as indicated by the red bars. USD transaction volumes converted to IQD to put the local demand for USD post-devaluation in context).

butterfly  Demand for USD in the CBI’s transactions is a reasonable proxy for consumer demand given the country’s high dependence on imports to satisfy domestic consumption of goods and services. This demand dropped significantly following the 23% devaluation of the IQD versus the USD in late December.

Though, after a prolonged period of adjustment demand has picked up significantly in the weeks following the passage of the budget in late March. However, a verdict on a resumption of consumer spending is somewhat complicated in this instance given the usual increase in demand associated with Ramadan.

Moreover, a few weeks of USD demand data are not enough to reach any conclusions on whether domestic consumption, and hence demand for exports, have fully recovered or not. Nevertheless, this increased demand for the USD in combination with the mobility data makes for a compelling picture of potential consumer spending as a “crouching tiger”.

Finally, completing the “the economics of coiled springs, and crouching tigers, and Chicken Lickens” is the “worst-case” prognosis made for Iraq in the wake of the carnage brought about by COVID-19 in early 2020, which just like the chicken in the folktale “Chicken Lickens”, feared that the sky was falling.

As argued here in “Not as Bad as Feared, but Still Pricing It” that: “As May drew to a close the “worst-case” prognosis for Iraq in the wake of the carnage brought about by COVID-19 turned out to not be as bad as originally feared – not by a wide margin. But its equity market is still discounting the worst of possible outcomes, notwithstanding a strong close for the month with the market, as measured Rabee Securities RSISX USD Index (RSISUSD), up 10.7%.”

butterfly   While the market, as measured by the Rabee Securities RSISX USD Index, up 24.4% for the year as of the end of April is no longer discounting the worst of possible outcomes, but with the index still down over 60% from its 2014 high, it’s clear that the market is yet to discount any meaningful economic recovery.

The positives of the current indicators pointing to a significant economic rebound notwithstanding, the outlook for Iraq is still fraught with uncertainties. For starters, the improved outlook for the world economy is highly dependent on the sustained pace of current vaccinations and the evolution of the pandemic, yet this rebound will only take the world economy back to its pre-COVID-19 trendline.

Moreover, even if the world economic rebound is not derailed, the current firm oil prices and the supply-demand balance for oil, are highly dependent on the continued adherence of OPEC+ to the significant oil production cuts agreed in April 2020.

butterfly  Mr Tabaqchali (@AMTabaqchali) is the CIO of the AFC Iraq Fund, and is an experienced capital markets professional with over 25 years’ experience in US and MENA markets. He is a non-resident Fellow at the Institute of Regional and International Studies (IRIS) at the American University of Iraq-Sulaimani (AUIS), and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at AUIS. He is a board member of the Credit Bank of Iraq.

His comments, opinions and analyses are personal views and are intended to be for informational purposes and general interest only and should not be construed as individual investment advice or a recommendation or solicitation to buy, sell or hold any fund or security or to adopt any investment strategy.

It does not constitute legal or tax or investment advice. The information provided in this material is compiled from sources that are believed to be reliable, but no guarantee is made of its correctness, is rendered as at publication date and may change without notice and it is not intended as a complete analysis of every material fact regarding Iraq, the region, market or investment.

Butterfly   Here is the full report: https://www.iraq-businessnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Market-review-IBN-2021-05.pdf

butterfly  2021-05-03 04:58  Shafaq News / the Central Bank of Iraq on Monday, announced an increase in the foreign currency exchange.

Shafaq News Agency correspondent said that the foreign currency auction of the Central Bank of Iraq recorded a 9.88 % increase to 178,947,783 dollars which the bank covered at an exchange rate of 1460 dinars per dollar.

He added that the sales operations were in the form of wire transfer (149,447,783 $) and credits (91,500,000$).

Last December, Iraq’s central bank increased the sale price of U.S. dollars to banks and currency exchanges to 1,460 dinars, from 1,182 dinars, seeking to compensate for a decline in oil revenue due to low crude prices.

The central bank of Iraq said the key reason behind the dinar’s devaluation was to close the gap of widened 2021 budget inflation after a collapse in global oil prices, a major source of Iraq’s financial resources.

butterfly  2021-05-03 03:30  Shafaq News / The dollar exchange rates climbed slightly in the Iraqi market today, Monday (May 3, 2021).

  • The Kifah Stock Exchange recorded 148,100 dinars, for $ 100.
  • The Al-Harthiya Stock Exchange recorded 148,100 dinars for 100 dollars.

In Baghdad   Selling prices in the banking stores in the local markets

  • Sale price: 148,500 dinars for $ 100  • Purchase price: 147,500 dinars for $ 100

In Erbil   Selling prices in the banking stores in the local markets

  • Sale price: 148,200 dinars for $ 100   • Purchase price: 148,000 dinars for $ 100

butterfly  2021-05-03 02:31   Gold prices rose on Monday as a retreat in U.S. Treasury yields and worries over surging COVID-19 cases in some countries boosted the metal’s appeal, while palladium held firm after surpassing the $3,000-per-ounce level in the previous session.

Spot gold XAU= was up 0.3% at $1,773.03 per ounce by 0602 GMT. Trading in Asian hours was low due to public holidays in China and Japan. U.S. gold futures GCv1 rose 0.3% to $1,773.30 per ounce.

“The pandemic situation in Japan and India remains a key concern among market participants, so that’s driving up the demand for safe-haven assets, including gold,” said Margaret Yang, a strategist at DailyFX, adding that retreating U.S. Treasury yields lent further support.

Benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury yields US10YT=RR retreated after hitting their highest in nearly two weeks last week. Lower bond yields reduce the opportunity cost of holding non-interest bearing gold.

India on Monday reported more than 300,000 new coronavirus cases for a twelfth straight day, taking its overall caseload to just shy of 20 million. dollar index .DXY , meanwhile, hovered close to its highest level in nearly two weeks hit earlier in the day against its rivals. USD/

Investors now look forward to a raft of U.S. economic data this week, including the ISM manufacturing survey and April payroll numbers, for further clues about recovery in the world’s largest economy.

On the technical front, “gold has resistance at $1,790 an ounce, followed by a double top and the 100-day moving average in the $1,800 an ounce area. Support is nearby between $1,755 and $1,760 an ounce,” OANDA senior market analyst Jeffrey Halley said in a note.

Elsewhere, auto-catalyst metal palladium XPD= rose 0.7% to $2,953.43 per ounce, after hitting an all-time high of $3,007.73 per ounce on Friday over supply concerns.

Silver XAG= was steady at $25.90 per ounce. Platinum XPT= rose 0.1% to $1,199.63.  Source: Reuters

butterfly   2021-05-03 00:53  Shafaq News/ Oil prices fell on Monday as a catastrophic second wave of a coronavirus epidemic in India cut short a recovery in oil demand there, offsetting optimism about a strong rebound in demand in developed countries and China in the second half of the year.

Brent crude futures for July fell 0.26%, to $66.50 a barrel by 0524 GMT while U.S. West Texas Intermediate for June was at $63.30 a barrel, down 0.28%.

State-level restrictions aimed at stemming infections in India have caused fuel sales in the world’s third largest consumer to drop in April, preliminary data shows.

“Overall fuel demand is down by about 7% from pre-COVID level of April 2019,” A.K. Singh, head of marketing at refiner Bharat Petroleum Corp (BPCL.NS) said, adding that India’s demand was close to pre-COVID levels in March.

Analysts are expecting India’s demand for transportation fuels to witness a sharper slump in May due to more restrictions.

“Given that it still appears as though COVID-19 in India has not peaked, we expect to see further downside to fuel demand over May,” ING analysts said in a note.

On Sunday, a leading Indian industry body urged authorities to curtail economic activity, as healthcare system has been overwhelmed by the spiralling infections.

Globally, however, the roll out of vaccination campaigns is expected to lift oil demand, especially during peak travel season in the third quarter, prompting analysts to increase their forecasts for Brent prices for a fifth straight month, a Reuters poll showed.

The survey of 49 participants forecast that Brent would average $64.17 a barrel in 2021, up from last month’s consensus of $63.12 and the $62.30 average for the benchmark so far this year.

butterfly  On the supply side, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries pumped 25.17 million bpd in April, up 100,000 barrels from March, as Iran and other producers increased output. OPEC’s production has risen every month since June 2020 with the exception of February.

Iran and the United States are in talks to revive a nuclear deal which could lead to a lifting of U.S. sanctions that would allow Iran to ramp up oil exports.

Washington on Sunday denied a report by Iran’s state television that the arch-foes had reached a prisoner swap deal in exchange for the release of $7 billion of Iranian oil earnings frozen by U.S. sanctions in other countries.

In the United States, energy firms added oil and natural gas rigs last week, leading to a ninth straight monthly rig count increase, as a recovery in prices lured some drillers back to the wellpad, according to Baker Hughes.

However, U.S. crude oil production dropped by over a million barrels per day in February, to the lowest levels since October, 2017, according to a monthly government report on Friday.

Source: Reuters, Oil prices updated by Shafaq News Agency

butterfly  2021-05-03 07:48   Shafaq News/ A source in the Independent High Electoral Commission office in al-Muthanna said that candidates running to the forthcoming legislative elections in the governorate amounted to 82, 15 percent below the previous electoral cycle.

The source told Shafaq News Agency that 82 candidates, only 19 of whom are women, are contesting for seven seats in the governorate.

“However, this slate is intentative since the committee in Baghdad did not ratify it until the moment,” the source added.

“The candidates’ count in the governorate in the previous elections ranged between 100 and 150. Compared to the upcoming elections’ estimates, the candidature percentage dropped by 15 percent.”

Yesterday Sunday, a press statement of the Independent High Electoral Commission said that the total count of candidates contesting for the 329 seats in the Iraqi Parliament amounted to 3500.

The candidates will share the votes of 25,139,375 citizens eligible for voting by October 10.

butterfly   2021-05-03 06:12   Shafaq News / Iraqi Airways evacuated on Monday more than 400 Iraqis stuck in India due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hussein Jalil, a spokesman for Iraqi Airways said in an interview that the Boeing 747 was examined, and sterilized before the flight, and will follow the same procedure upon its arrival at Baghdad International Airport.

According to Jalil, The arrivals will be tested for Covid-9 and be quarantined for 14 days.

Other evacuation trips will be taken place to evacuate the rest, He added.

Earlier, Iraq’s ambassador to India, Falah Abdul-Hassan Al-Saadi confirmed that the Iraqi side is making any needed arrangements to secure the return of Iraqis from India.

“So far, 550 Iraqis want to return, six Iraqis have died due to the new Coronavirus complications, but the Indian authorities refuse to transfer their bodies.”

Al-Saadi pointed out that “the health situation in India is very bad and difficult, which prompted the Indian authorities to call all other countries to provide assistance…some countries have begun to respond, including the United States, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and Kuwait.”

The Iraqi diplomat sent a message via Shafaq News Agency to the Iraqi community in India, “We are standing by you…, within 48 hours, you will be in Iraq, and all we need for now is to be patient to complete the preparations to be received.”

He pointed out that “there are five personnel among the Iraqi Mission team in India, one of them is in a very critical condition, his blood oxygen levels is between 66 and 70%, and the Mission was unable to find a bed in hospitals.

Iraq has so far confirmed 1,074,930 virus infections, including 15,536 deaths.

butterfly   2021-05-03 04:43  Shafaq News / The British ambassador to Iraq, Stephen Hickey, confirmed on Monday that firing rockets at Baghdad airport threatens the lives of Iraqis.

Hickey said on Twitter in Arabic, “launching rockets at Baghdad civil airport threatens the lives of Iraqis, increases their (Iraqis) poverty by obstructing foreign investment and tourism, harms Iraq’s international prestige, and makes it more difficult for Iraqis to travel abroad.”

“The Iraqis deserve better than that.” He concluded.

a rocket attack has been thwarted on Sunday at the military headquarters of the US forces at the Baghdad Airport, which has been a frequent target of multiple strikes since 2019.

Yesterday evening, a source told Shafaq News Agency that multiple Katyusha rockets landed in the vicinity of the US base in Baghdad Airport.

He added that the US forces activated the C-RAM defense system, which repelled one of the rockets heading towards the base.

Butterfly   2021-05-03 07:57  Shafaq News/ The President of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani, hosted on Monday the Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, Muhammad al-Halboosi, in his headquarters in the capital of the Kurdistan Region, Erbil.

Barzani tweeted, “Productive meeting today at the Barzani HQ with the Speaker of the Council of Representatives, Muhammad al-Halboosi.”

“We discussed the latest developments in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, including the upcoming elections,” he added.

The Iraqi Parliament Speaker embarked today, Monday, on an official visit to the capital of Kurdistan.

A source revealed that al-Halboosi will hold meetings with the President and the Prime Minister of the Region.

butterfly  2021-05-03 07:06  Shafaq News / the Metro Center for the Protection of Journalists’ Rights, on Monday revealed violence against journalists and media workers in Kurdistan in the year of 2021.

The statistics were announced in a press conference in Erbil by the director of the Center Diyari Muhammad.

The center’ report on press and media freedom in Kurdistan for the first four months of year 2021 recorded 47 cases of violations against 36 journalists.

Among these cases are banning press coverage, arresting without a warrant and threating and insulting.

In a previous report, Metro said that failing to implement laws that protect journalists has led to the increasing in violations against them, in addition to the economic crisis, the Corona virus pandemic, and the problems among political forces.

Sheila @butterfly great postings… taking some time to read thru… it will show up on dinarrecaps.com very soon. lol

Butterfly  sheila more to come. Yes recaps only posts the articles and not the other stuff not relating to the dinar. I found it very easy to read over there also.

butterfly   2021-05-03 01:45  Shafaq News/ Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Luigi di Maio, today received the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Iraq, Fuad Hussein, at the Farnesina.

A statement by the Italian Foreign Ministry said the “Minister Di Maio, first of all, renewed his condolences for the tragic fire at the Ibn Al-Khatib hospital in Baghdad. The head of the Farnesina then renewed the ongoing Italian commitment to support the institutions and the Iraqi people in view of a full stabilization of the country, which is crucial for the entire region.”

Di Maio praised Italy’s contribution, within the framework of the anti-ISIS Coalition and the NATO mission, and condemned the recent rocket launch at Erbil airport.

He reiterated the importance of bilateral cooperation, recalling the presence of Italian companies in the country and the Italian commitment to cultural matters and through development cooperation, of which Iraq is a priority country.

Finally, the two ministers reviewed some of the main themes of regional interest, starting with Iran.

For his part, Hussein handed the Italian Prime Minister an official invitation to visit Iraq.

Sheila   butterfly you are sweet to do all these postings

butterfly   sheila a lot of reading lol

Sheila  butterfly enjoy reading. and read for comprehension and conception.

Zig   https://dinarrecaps.com/our-blog/zigs-place-chat-and-news-sunday-pm-5-2-21

butterfly   2021-05-03 00:35  Shafaq News/ On the World Press Freedom Day, the United States seeks accountability for all crimes against journalists and media workers.

“Tomorrow, the United States joins the international community in celebrating World Press Freedom Day. Information and knowledge are powerful tools, and a free and independent press is the core institution connecting publics to the information they need to advocate for themselves, make informed decisions, and hold governmental officials accountable.” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

Stressing that the US advocates for press freedom online and offline and for the safety of journalists and media workers worldwide, Blinken also mentioned the implementation of the ‘Khashoggi Ban’ – in wake of the murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi – to help deter threatening behavior against media.

Citing the Committee to Protect Journalists report in 2020, the top US diplomat further said that Mexico and Afghanistan had seen the largest number of journalists killed in retaliation for their reporting, while China, Turkey and Egypt imprisoned the most reporters last year.

“Unfortunately, the pandemic has provided a pretext for repressive governments to intensify pressure on independent media. It is exactly in that kind of hostile environment that the exercise of freedom of expression, especially by members of the press, becomes even more crucial in alerting the public to abuses and corruption and in countering dangerous misinformation and disinformation. We call on all governments to ensure media safety and protect journalists’ ability to do their jobs without fear of violence, threats, or unjust detention,” he said.

butterfly  Blinken further expressed concern with the governments’ increased efforts to deprive the the public of information and knowledge by controlling Internet access and censoring content, including through the widespread use of network restrictions – some as long as 18 months – that make it impossible for journalists to conduct independent reporting.

He noted that the governments must not shut down, block, throttle, censor, or filter services, as these actions undermine and unduly restrict the rights of peaceful assembly and freedoms of association and expression, disrupt access to essential services, and negatively impact the economy.

“The United States condemns the use of partial or complete government-imposed Internet shutdowns, among other tactics, to prevent the exercise of freedom of expression online and restrict the ability of independent journalists to serve the public. We urge governments to investigate and seek accountability for all crimes against journalists and media workers,” he remarked.

“The United States is committed to working in partnership with members of the media, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and other concerned governments to support access to information and defend freedom of expression and the brave journalists who face intimidation, harassment, arrest, and violence in exercising their rights,” Blinken added.

butterfly   2021-05-02 10:23   Shafaq News / Iran will free prisoners with Western ties in Iran in exchange for billions of dollars from the United States and the United Kingdom, state television reported Sunday. The U.S. immediately denied the report, while the U.K. did not respond, the Washington Post reported.

The state TV report quoted an anonymous official just as Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei began giving what authorities earlier described as an “important” speech. However, Khamenei did not immediately discuss any proposed swap amid negotiations in Vienna over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers.

The official quoted by Iranian state TV said a deal made between the U.S. and Tehran involved a prisoner swap in exchange for the release of $7 billion in frozen Iranian funds.

“The Americans accepted to pay $7 billion and swap four Iranians who were active in bypassing sanctions for four American spies who have served part of their sentences,” state TV said, quoting the official in an on-screen crawl.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price immediately denied the Iranian state TV report.

“Reports that a prisoner swap deal has been reached are not true,” Price said. “As we have said, we always raise the cases of Americans detained or missing in Iran. We will not stop until we are able to reunite them with their families.”

Price did not elaborate.

Tehran holds four known Americans now in prison. They include Baquer and Siamak Namazi, environmentalist Morad Tahbaz and Iranian-American businessman Emad Shargi. The state TV report did not immediately name the Iranians that Tehran hoped to get the in swap.

State TV also quoted the official as saying a deal had been reached for the United Kingdom to pay 400 million pounds to see the release of British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. The office of Prime Minister Boris Johnson referred calls to the Foreign Office, which could not be immediately reached.

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