Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband called the talks between British government officials and Iran’s deputy foreign minister a “breakthrough.”
Thursday’s meeting comes as Richard Ratcliffe endures his 19th day of hunger strike outside the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) in London.
Mr Ratcliffe started his protest last month after his wife lost her last appeal in Iran, saying his family is “caught up in a two-state dispute.”
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Bagheri Kani is due to meet with FCDO officials, and Mr. Ratcliffe will then meet with Foreign Minister James Cleverly.
Mr Ratcliffe told BBC Radio 4’s Today program: ‘I will meet him right after he meets Iran’s deputy foreign minister, so it will basically be about finding out what happened, where are we.
âI guess I’m looking for some sort of breakthrough. The point of a hunger strike is that you kind of hope to get things done and get things done, so let’s keep our fingers crossed.
Mr Ratcliffe said it was a “breakthrough” in itself for the Iranians to come to the capital.
Speaking ahead of the meeting between government officials and the Iranian diplomat, he said: âIt really is a breakthrough. I think it has been many years since an Iranian minister came.
âIt is the chief negotiator for Iran who is coming. Obviously our case is associated with all the larger maneuvering around the nuclear deal and everything in between. “
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, an Anglo-Iranian binational, has been detained in Iran since 2016 after being charged with conspiracy to overthrow the government.
She was taking the couple’s daughter, Gabriella, to see her family when she was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison, spending four years in Evin prison and one under house arrest.
According to her family, Iranian authorities told her she was being detained due to the UK’s non-payment of a Â£ 400million debt to Iran.
Asked if he doubts the British government thinks the country should pay the debt to Iran, Mr Ratcliffe said today: ‘The Prime Minister, when he was Minister of Foreign Affairs, promised he would pay her.
“He also, when we met him behind closed doors a few years ago now, was certainly keen to try and bring Nazanin home and said, ‘We will not allow any effort in this matter.’
“I had clear conversations with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, I received letters from the Secretary of Defense, so there is a sort of grunt in the head: ‘Well, how come that has not been resolved? “”
Asked about his intuition, he replied: âWe asked Liz Truss, Minister of Foreign Affairs, but she didn’t tell us anything. My fear is – and it is the fear of this new punishment that has been inflicted on Nazanin – that the Iranians are not persuaded and that they are ready to show their claws.
Meanwhile, former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt described Iran as “an absolutely despicable regime that sponsors terrorism across the Middle East” but said the UK should pay its debt to the country.
Speaking on the Today show, Mr Hunt said, âWe have contracts with countries all over the world, some nicer, some nastier, and we are a country that pays our debts.
âIf it was the ransom money, I would say we shouldn’t pay it, and I said that to Richard, painful as it sounds, because you are just encouraging more taking. ‘hostages.
âBut it’s not ransom money. It is a debt. An international tribunal has said so. The Secretary of Defense said so.
“We should be paying it because it is an irritant to relations and whether or not it is related to the Nazanin case, the Iranians certainly make that connection.”
Mr Hunt said it was “practically difficult” to pay the money to Iran, adding: “There are practical problems with sanctions, but these are things that you can sometimes get around, if you, for example, donated Â£ 400million worth of medicine or something like that.
âThere are also political considerations, you know, the reactions of people like the United States, but given that President Obama paid the American debts to Iran in exactly the same situation, I think he is. unlikely that we will have the same objections from President Biden. that we could have had from President Trump.
Mr Ratcliffe is on his second hunger strike in two years.
Previously, he had camped outside the Iranian embassy for 15 days, which he said brought his daughter home.
During his last protest, he was visited by supporters, including Strictly Come Dancing co-host Claudia Winkleman, writer and presenter Victoria Coren Mitchell and Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer.
Ahead of Thursday’s meeting, a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry said, âWe will urge Iran to seize the opportunity to quickly bring the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) agreement on the table to the table.
“We will also take this opportunity to once again insist strongly for the immediate release of our unjustly detained British nationals.”