Coming at a time of soaring tensions, the prisoner swap — involving a Princeton graduate student jailed for espionage since 2016 and an Iranian national arrested over a year ago in Chicago — took place in neutral Switzerland.
“Thank you to Iran on a very fair negotiation,” tweeted Trump, as Xiyue Wang made his way home to his family.
“See, we can make a deal together!” wrote the US leader, who was expected to welcome Wang in person when he finally arrives in the United States, after a stop in Germany for medical evaluations.
A photo tweeted by the American Embassy in Bern showed Wang on a rainswept tarmac in Zurich with an official blue and white US jet in the background, hugging ambassador Edward McMullen.
The Chinese-born American was in apparent good health and in “very, very good humor,” said a senior US administration official.
Tehran had announced the release of its national, Massoud Soleimani, shortly before Trump revealed that Wang was returning home.
“Glad that Professor Massoud Soleimani and Mr. Xiyue Wang will be joining their families shortly,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted — along with a photograph of himself and the scientist on a plane under the words “Going home.”
“Many thanks to all engaged, particularly the Swiss government,” which has looked after US interests in Iran in the absence of diplomatic ties, Zarif said.
The Swiss foreign ministry confirmed that the exchange — which it called a “humanitarian gesture” — took place on its territory. It was credited by both sides with an intensive diplomatic effort to secure the men’s release.
“Our country stands ready for further facilitation, in accordance with its long-lasting tradition of good offices,” the foreign ministry statement said.