During a political rally Thursday night in Indiana, President Donald Trump contrasted the conditions regarding the return of three American prisoners from North Korea this week to the return of U.S. hostages from Iran while Barack Obama was in office, noting the 44th president paid well over $1 billion, while his administration paid nothing.
One of the many critiques then-presidential candidate Trump had of the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran is that the Obama administration did not set as a pre-condition to the negotiations the return of American hostages.
“In all fairness, Obama — President Obama — paid $1.8 billion for hostages,” Trump told a raucous crowd in Elkhart, Indiana.
The mere mention of the former president’s name brought a thundering chorus of “boos” from those in attendance.
Trump went on to praise North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un for his decision to return the imprisoned Americans.
“Kim Jong Un did a great service to himself and to his country by doing this,” Trump said. “Those hostages came out with respect. We didn’t pay for them. … They came out for nothing, and the others came out for $1.8 billion in cash. Can you believe that?”
— Fox News (@FoxNews) May 11, 2018
In January 2016, the Obama administration airlifted $400 million in cash to Iran at the same time four American hostages were released.
One of the American hostages, Saeed Abedini, told Fox News the plane carrying himself and the other Americans was not allowed to leave until another plane arrived first, which he understood to be transporting the pallets of cash.
The Wall Street Journal reported the $400 million was the first installment of a $1.7 billion settlement the Obama administration agreed to pay the Islamic Republic from a judgment handed down at the international tribunal at The Hague.
Tehran had paid the United States for military equipment never received due to the overthrow of the Shah of Iran during the 1979 revolution.
Obama explained his decision to authorize the payment in January 17, 2016, remarks at the White House
“With the nuclear deal done, prisoners released, the time was right to resolve this dispute as well,” he said, without disclosing the $400 million cash payment.
When the cash payment later became public, the Obama administration denied there was any link between the payment and the release of hostages.
“As we’ve made clear, the negotiations over the settlement of an outstanding claim … were completely separate from the discussions about returning our American citizens home,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said.
“Not only were the two negotiations separate, they were conducted by different teams on each side, including, in the case of The Hague claims, by technical experts involved in these negotiations for many years,” he added.
Trump said Thursday the release of the American hostages by North Korea boded well for the upcoming talks between himself and Kim, slated for June 12 in Singapore.
“The relationship is good, and hopefully, I mean for all of us — for the world — hopefully something very good is going to happen,” Trump said, referring to the upcoming summit.
“It’s important for them, important for everybody,” he stated. “I think it’s going to be a very big success.”
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