Prisoner release helps Obama blunt Iran criticism

Republican attacks on US President Barack Obama's policy of engagement had intensified this week as 10 American sailors were detained in the Gulf by Iran’s hardline Revolutionary Guard NavyThe surprise release of five Americans held in Iran has helped a vulnerable President Barack Obama put his political foes on the back foot. On a day when the White House took the politically unpopular step of unfreezing up to $100 billion dollars in Iranian assets, the administration pulled an ace from its sleeve. After 14 months of stop-start secret talks between senior Iranian and US officials, Tehran announced the release of four Americans in exchange for seven Iranians being released in the United States.

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