Swiss plane with 3 freed Americans in Geneva

Posted at 1:58 PM, Jan 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-17 18:33:48-05

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- The latest developments as Iran and world powers implement a landmark deal reached last year to curb Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions (all times local).

10:20 p.m.

A Swiss air force plane carrying three Americans released by Iran has landed in Geneva.
Swiss Foreign Ministry spokesman Jean-Marc Crevoisier confirmed that the jet that touched down after dark Sunday was the one with the Americans on board. From Geneva, they are to be flown to a U.S. air base in Germany.
8:35 p.m.

Attorneys for one of the Iranians freed in a prisoner swap with the United States say their client "poses no danger to the American people."

Ali Saboonchi of Parkville, Maryland, was one of seven Iranians who were released Saturday in a negotiated exchange between the two countries.

Saboonchi had been convicted of unlawfully exporting goods to Iran in violation of international sanctions and was serving a 2-year sentence.

His public defenders, Lucius Outlaw and Elizabeth Oyer, say Saboonchi was born in the U.S. and is raising a family here. They say his arrest and incarceration were "devastating" to his friends and family and that he's grateful for his release.

They describe him as "a beloved and hard-working family man and American" and say "he has a bright future ahead."
8:05 p.m.

The Swiss Foreign Ministry says a Swiss plane with a ministry representative and doctors on board is expected to land in Switzerland late Sunday afternoon.

A ministry statement says the plane is carrying three of the released Iranian-Americans and the mother and wife of one of the former captives, but didn't identify them. It said that after landing in Switzerland -- it didn't specify where -- the five passengers will continue to a U.S. base in Germany.

The statement also says that the Swiss "facilitated" the negotiations and the agreement.
   6 p.m.

Iraq has welcomed the implementation of a historic nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, saying it will have a positive impact across the Middle East.

Government spokesman Saad al-Hadithi told The Associated Press on Sunday that Iraq believes the deal "will be a catalyst for beginning to solve a number of disputes in the region peacefully and through dialogue."

Iraq's Shiite-led government is closely tied to Iran, which has provided military advisers and other aid to forces battling the Islamic State group.

The deal reached last summer with the U.S., France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China will lift crippling economic sanctions on Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear program.
   4:45 p.m.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon says he welcomes the news that a number of Americans detained in Iran, including a Washington Post journalist, have been released along with a number of Iranians held by the United States.

On Sunday he commended "moves by the governments of both countries to improve ties."

He added that he was "heartened by the lifting of sanctions against Iran" as part of a landmark nuclear deal reached last year.

He says "now is the moment to push the cooperation on other pressing challenges through dialogue, which should continue to guide the way toward a safer future."

Ban was speaking in Dubai at the opening of an event about improving the delivery of international humanitarian aid.
   2:45 p.m.

Germany's economy minister says that reviving economic and financial ties with Iran will take time.

Western sanctions on Iran's nuclear program were lifted after the U.N. nuclear agency certified Saturday that Tehran had met all of its commitments under last year's landmark agreement with world powers.

Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who is also Germany's vice chancellor, said in a statement Sunday that the move offers "the chance to open a new chapter in German-Iranian economic relations.

But he added that "the revival of German-Iranian economic, and especially financial, relations is a long-term process."

Gabriel plans to chair a meeting of a German-Iranian economic commission in Tehran in May.
   1:30 p.m.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that Israeli would monitor the Iranian nuclear deal closely to ensure that Iran was not violating its commitments.

Speaking at his weekly Cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said, "The Israel policy remains as it was -- not to allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon."

Netanyahu was a strong public opponent of the negotiations and drew the ire of the Obama administration by speaking in front of the U.S. Congress in an attempt to prevent the agreement. On Sunday he repeated his contention that the deal will strengthen and embolden Tehran, leading to greater regional instability.

"What is clear is that Iran will now have more resources to dedicate to their terrorism and aggression in the region and in the world, and Israel is prepared to deal with any threat," he said.
   12:30 p.m.

Iranian President Hasan Rouhani has presented parliament with a draft budget that would reduce the government's reliance on oil revenues. The budget plans for an economic windfall as international economic sanctions against Iran end as part of a landmark nuclear deal.

The $75 billion budget, unveiled Sunday, is about 4.2 percent higher than the previous year's budget of $72 billion.

Oil revenues will make up less than 25 percent of the proposed budget for the next Iranian calendar year that begins March 21, down from 33 percent the previous year.

The proposed budget predicts an exchange rate of $1 U.S. dollar to 29,970 Iranian rials. The rial is currently 36,000 to $1. It also put oil prices at $40 per barrel.

Iran also separately budgets some $190 billion for hundreds of government banks and companies.
   12 p.m.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani says the official implementation Saturday of the landmark deal reached between Tehran and six world powers has satisfied all parties except radical extremists.

Speaking in the parliament in comments broadcast live on state television, Rouhani said, "In (implementing) the deal, all are happy except Zionists, warmongers, sowers of discord among Islamic nations and extremists in the U.S. The rest are happy."

Rouhani said the deal has "opened new windows for engagement with the world."

A strong supporter of the agreement, Rouhani sent out a celebratory tweet calling it a "glorious victory" late Saturday night while the speeches in Vienna were still taking place.

AP-WF-01-17-16 1804GMT