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WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department says a $400 million cash payment to Iran was contingent on the release of American prisoners.

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Spokesman John Kirby says negotiations over the United States’ returning Iranian money from a decades-old account was conducted separately from the prisoner talks. But he says the U.S. withheld delivery of the cash as leverage until the U.S. citizens had left Iran.

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Both events occurred Jan. 17.

Kirby spoke after The Wall Street Journal reported that the departures of the crisscrossing planes were linked.

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