Washington would not issue Iran's foreign minister Mohammed Javad Zarif a visa to address the United Nations later this week, the Associated Press reported, citing an anonymous source familiar with the matter.
In an interview with "CBS This Morning," Zarif said that the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has informed the U.N. secretary-general António Guterres that there was not enough time to review the visa request.
Zarib's potential trip to New York would have been a chance for him to discuss the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani in Iraq earlier last week.
It did not become immediately clear whether Zarif's visa request has been officially declined. The State Department did not comment on the issue, citing visa confidentiality laws. However, according to the national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, Mike Pompeo believed it was not the right time for Iran's first diplomat to visit the United States.
O'Brien did not hide his surprise that Iran wants to use diplomatic channels and wants to speak to a U.N. Security Council session on Thursday. In O'Brien's view, every time Zarif comes to New York, he ''spreads propaganda.'' O'Brien suggested that Zarif could always join the meeting via Internet if he wants to be heard.
According to Zarif, Trump's administration fears that ''he would go to New York to tell the American people the truth.'' Iran's foreign minister pointed out that the world is not limited to New York, and he could address the American people from his office in Tehran too.
Zarif was already scheduled to travel to the United States and speak at the U.N. Security Council. The visit was arranged before the Soleimani's killing. He was previously sanctioned by Washington in July 2019, which included a ban to enter the country.
Iran's foreign minister argued that the U.S. violated the 1947 United Nations Headquarters agreement, according to which, in most circumstances, Washington is required to issue visas to foreign nationals for meetings at the U.N.
In the past, the Department of State had declined visas to numerous Iranian diplomats. In addition to that, it also barred non-U.N.-related trips by other international officials, including the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Hours after Soleimani's death, Tehran started its lobbying efforts to secure U.N. condemnation of the assassination. Immediately after the airstrike in Iraq, the U.N. Rapporteur on extra-judicial executions Agnès Callamard tweeted that the killing of Soleimani was '' most likely unlawful.'' The U.N. said she was speaking in a personal capacity.
What do you think? Do you believe that Washington should not allow Iran's foreign minister to enter our country?