Iran's foreign minister says the courts are willing "in near future" to commute the prison sentences for two jailed Americans convicted for spying.
Ali Akbar Salehi says Iran's judiciary was ready to cancel the sentences as a gesture of Islamic mercy. But he did not give any clearer indication on when the two men could be released.
Salehi comments at a news conference Saturday come as international efforts intensified to seal a $1 million bail-for-freedom deal for Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal. They were detained along the Iran-Iraq border in July 2009 and each sentenced to eight years in prison.
Mediators from Iraq and Oman have asked Iran to free them and an Omani plane is in Tehran to carry the pair out of Iran if a deal is reached.