White House defends U.S.-Iran prisoner swap deal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House on Wednesday defended a U.S.-Iran prisoner swap deal that has drawn criticism from Republicans, saying Iran gets no U.S. sanctions relief from the deal.

The United States on Monday waived sanctions to allow the transfer of $6 billion in Iranian funds from South Korea to Qatar, a step needed to carry out a previously announced U.S.-Iran prisoner swap, according to a U.S. document seen by Reuters.

“This it not a payment of any kind. It’s not a ransom. These aren’t U.S. taxpayer dollars. We haven’t lifted a single one of our sanctions on Iran,” John Kirby, the White House national security spokesperson, told reporters.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Steve Holland; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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