FILE - In this June 2, 2015 file photo, Naghmeh Abedini holds a necklace with a photograph of her husband, Saeed Abedini, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
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Iran freed five Americans including a Washington Post reporter on Saturday as the two countries staged a series of goodwill gestures ahead of the expected announcement of the lifting of international sanctions against Tehran under a nuclear deal.U.S. President Barack Obama pardoned three Iranian-Americans charged for sanctions violations, and U.S. officials said four others would be released, in a thaw in relations between the two nations that has shaped the Middle East since Iran's Islamic Revolution of 1979 . Ahead of that announcement, Iran is releasing five Americans and the United States is freeing seven Iranians charged with sanctions violations, in what U.S. officials described as a humanitarian gesture.The Obama administration says the deal reached last July offered the best possible prospect of ensuring Iran would not develop a nuclear weapon, and could never have been achieved without the support of allies, which was always contingent on a pledge to lift sanctions once Iran complied.Iran has tested missiles since the nuclear agreement, drawing threats from Washington to tighten those sanctions.
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