US said to deny Iran’s Zarif a visa, blocking his visit to UN Security Council
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US said to deny Iran’s Zarif a visa, blocking his visit to UN Security Council

Iranian foreign minister had planned trip to attend upcoming meeting before tensions flared over US killing of Soleimani

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during talks in Moscow, Russia, December 30, 2019. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP)
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during talks in Moscow, Russia, December 30, 2019. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP)

The US has denied an entry visa to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, preventing him from attending a United Nations Security Council meeting scheduled for later this week, Reuters reported Tuesday.

The report cited a US official who spoke the day before on condition of anonymity.

Zarif’s visit for the Thursday meeting at the UN headquarters, which will focus on upholding the UN charter, was arranged before the recent flareup in tensions between Washington and Tehran over the US slaying of senior Iranian military figure Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike.

The airstrike has spiked friction between the countries, with Iran vowing revenge and US President Donald Trump warning that any attack would be met with an immediate counterstrike.

Commander of Iran’s Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani (Screenshot)

Under a 1947 UN agreement the US is generally required to allow foreign diplomats access to the United Nations. However, Washington reserves the right to deny visas for “security, terrorism and foreign policy” reasons, Reuters said.

The US State Department declined to comment on the report, as did UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

Iran’s mission to the UN said in a statement that it had seen the reports of a visa denial “but we have not received any official communication from either the US or the UN regarding Foreign Minister Zarif’s visa.”

Soleimani, the head of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, was killed Friday in a US strike in Baghdad.

Mourners gather to pay homage to slain Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, Iraqi paramilitary chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and other victims of a US attack, in the capital Tehran on January 6, 2020. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

Iran’s ambassador to the UN, Majid Takht Ravanchi, responded by urging the UN Security Council to condemn the “the horrific assassination” of Soleimani in “a criminal act” of “state terrorism” by the United States.

In Friday letters to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the Security Council president, Ravanchi said the US airstrike “clearly invalidates the claim of the United States that it is fighting terrorism.”

The Iranian ambassador said the Security Council must “uphold its responsibilities and condemn this unlawful criminal act.”

Zarif was in the US in September last year to attend the annual UN general assembly of world leaders. He was also visited the UN in April and July. During his July visit US authorities tightly restricted his movements in New York.

A State Department spokeswoman said Monday that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about evens in the Middle East.

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