Obama says US does not pay ransom, defends payment to Iran

President Obama on Thursday emphatically denied that the $400 million cash payment his administration delivered to Iran on an unmarked cargo plane just as four Americans held hostage inside the rogue nation were released was a ransom payment and charged that his administration had been transparent about the peculiar deal.

"We ought to look at what the judgment of Barack ObamaBarack ObamaPence: Trump "will not negotiate" with foes Happy birthday President Obama, now save us from Trump WATCH LIVE: Obama holds press conference at Pentagon MORE and Hillary Clinton has wrought, particularly on the world stage".

The cash was delivered to the Iranian government in January, at the same time the nuclear deal was settled and the Americans were released.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) raised concerns that the report confirmed suspicions that the money was paid as ransom for the release of several USA citizens, including journalist Jason Rezaian, held by Iran.

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The Iranians, meanwhile, say the payment was indeed a ransom for the five American hostages released when the nuclear negotiations were finished. "Coupled with the risky, broken policy of the nuclear deal with Iran, this incident, which appears to be a ransom payment, emboldens our enemies and degrades our ability to negotiate from a position of strength, while putting more Americans at risk of being captured".

Obama told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday that the USA will continue to try to cooperate with Russian Federation to reduce the violence and focus the fight on the Islamic State group and other extremists.

"Donald Trump, the American people know, is going to provide the kind of leadership that we're not going to have these kind of moments again on the world stage", Mr. Pence said. "We don't have a banking relationship with Iran". "Iran will be returned its own funds, including appropriate interest, but much less than the amount Iran sought", said Obama in January.

As the USA presidential campaign heats up, Republicans, including Donald Trump, have attacked the Obama administration over the payment, questioning the timing of the transfer. "The reason we had to give them cash is precisely because we're so strict in maintaining sanctions", insisted Obama.

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The money was paid in foreign currency because USA sanctions against Iran make it unlawful for the payment to be made in US dollars. And this news comes as many grieving US families continue to await compensation for the murder of their loved ones by terrorists funded and supported by the Iranian government.

He said the settlement agreement ultimately saved US taxpayers what could have been billions of dollars in additional interest.

"The only bit of news is that we paid cash", he said.

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