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WASHINGTON/DOHA: US President Joe Biden welcomed the return of five citizens to the United States following a prisoner swap with Iran and thanked allies including Qatar for helping to secure their release.

"Siamak Namazi, Morad Tahbaz, Emad Sharghi, and two citizens who wish to remain private will soon be reunited with their loved ones - after enduring years of agony, uncertainty, and suffering," Biden said in a statement released by the White House on Monday.

"I am grateful to our partners at home and abroad for their tireless efforts to help us achieve this outcome, including the governments of Qatar, Oman, Switzerland, and South Korea.

"I give special thanks to the Amir of Qatar, HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and to the Sultan of Oman, HM Haitham bin Tariq, both of whom helped facilitate this agreement over many months of difficult and principled American diplomacy," he said.

Biden also reminded US citizens about the risk of travelling toIran and said Washington could not guarantee their freedom should they be detained.

"American passport holders should not travel there," he said.

Earlier the five UScitizens were joined by two family members on their way from Tehran to Doha.

It has been known for several weeks that the US and Iran were negotiating a prisoner exchange.

In August, Iran's judiciary released several US citizens from detention and transferred them to house arrest in apparent preparation for the swap.

One of the best-known is the businessman Namazi, who holds both USand Iranian citizenship. He was imprisoned in 2015 and sentenced to 10 years in prison for espionage.

On the US side, in return, five Iranians who were convicted or charged with "non-violent crimes" are being granted clemency.

As part of the deal, Iran had demanded the release of about $6bn in funds that were frozen in South Korea because of international sanctions.

Iran's Foreign Ministry said on Monday that the funds had arrived in Qatar.

The five American citizens and their families shook hands and exchanged hugs with Qatari and American officials as they disembarked from the plane in Doha.

The group spent a few minutes on the tarmac before being brought into the terminal for medical checks.

They will soon make their way to the US.

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