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Iran foreign minister denied visa to attend UN Security Council meeting in New York

Washington can deny visas for "security" and "terrorism" reasons [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 January, 2020

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A US official has disclosed that the US have denied Mohammad Javad Zarif a visa to attend a UN meeting, as tensions between Washington and Tehran reach boiling point.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif was on Monday denied  a visa to attend a UN Security Council meeting in New York scheduled later this week, according to a US official. 

The 1947 UN "headquarters agreement" require that the United States guarantee foreign diplomats access to the body's headquarter's in New York.

The US official who announced the denial refused to disclose their identity to press.

Washington, however, maintains it can deny visas for "security, terrorism and foreign policy" reasons.

There has been no immediate comment by the US State department. 

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric also declined to comment on the visa denial.

When probed on the issue in an interview with Al Jazeera, Zarif said that the US claimed they did not have time to issue a visa. 

"Secretary Pompeo called secretary-general of the United Nations yesterday, and said they didn't have time to consider my request and therefore they will not issue a visa," Zarif said, adding that the decision was in violation of US commitments to the UN agreement.

"What are they afraid of? What do they thing would happen if I go to New York?," Zarif said.

In a speech broadcast on Iranian state television, Zarif answered the question he posed. 

"They fear that someone comes to the US and reveals realities," he said.

"The world is not limited to New York and you can talk to the American people from Tehran and we will do that."

Zarif was looking to capitalise on the UN meeting to publicly condemn Friday's attack on Qasem Soleimani in full view of the international community, Reuters reported.

The meeting and Zarif's travel plans had been put in place well before the dramatic escalation in tensions between Washington and Tehran, the agency added.

Iran's top commander Qasem Soleimani led the Revolutionary Guards' expeditionary Quds Force, assisting President Bashar Assad's forces in the Syrian civil war and being the point man for Iranian proxies in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

He was killed by an American drone strike on a road leading to Baghdad airport. US President Donald Trump himself ordered the assassination, citing Soleimani's history of attacks against American personnel and interests, as well as evidence of an "imminent threat" to execute futher violence.

Following a million-strong funeral procession for the slain general in Tehran, dozens were killed in a stampede that erupted in the city of Kerman on Tuesday, Soleiman's home, where mourners had gathered for his burial.

The interment of Soleimani's remains will be postponed until further notice following the stampede, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency. 

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