(From Reuters)

Three Iranian-Americans left Tehran on Sunday under a prisoner swap following the lifting of sanctions on Iran that is likely to thaw ties further with the United States as Tehran emerges from years of international isolation.

Jason Rezaian
Jason Rezaian

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the nuclear deal, sealed with world powers last year and paving the way for Saturday’s lifting of most U.S., European, and U.N. sanctions, can be used as a model to resolve regional issues.

While the deal brings Iran back into the international fold, Tehran finds itself embroiled in sectarian conflicts in the Middle East and at odds with regional Sunni heavyweight Saudi Arabia, which views the U.S.-Iran thaw with deep suspicion.

“The nuclear deal can be used as a model for resolving regional problems … we want to have close ties with our neighbors. Saudi Arabia is the source of problems in our relations,” Rouhani told a news conference after earlier hailing the deal as a “golden page” in Iran’s history.

Despite those regional tensions, the lifting of sanctions and the prisoner deal considerably reduce the hostility between Tehran and Washington that has shaped the Middle East since Iran’s Islamic Revolution of 1979.

A U.S. official said a Swiss plane had left carrying Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post‘s Tehran bureau chief, Saeed Abedini, a pastor from Idaho and Amir Hekmati, a former Marine from Flint, Michigan, as well as some family members. Read More

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