WASHINGTON — The US State Department denies an allegation that it has forbidden a visiting Palestinian official from speaking to reporters in Washington.
Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki had joined his Arab and Turkish counterparts in traveling on a rare joint mission to Washington. The foreign ministers said they wanted to push the Biden administration to drop its objections to an immediate ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas terror group.
At a press conference by the Arab and Turkish diplomats, a reporter asked Malki about a Bloomberg story that quoted PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh as saying he hoped Hamas would be a junior partner to governing Palestinian officials.
But Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan quickly intervened. The US government, the Saudi diplomat said, had imposed visa “restrictions on his excellency that do not allow him to respond to media questions.”
Prince Faisal said he believed the ban was a “historical” practice with the Palestinian official in the US, and that violating it would bring legal repercussions.
No such thing, the State Department says in a statement later. “We have imposed no restrictions that prohibit individuals from speaking to the press.”