WASHINGTON — The United States said Monday it refused a request by Iran’s foreign minister to visit Washington last week, pointing to concerns about Tehran’s record including past detentions of U.S. citizens.
Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian reportedly sought to travel to visit Iran’s consular interests section following the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
“They did make that request and it was denied by the State Department,” spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters.
“We do have an obligation to allow Iranian officials and other officials of foreign governments to travel to New York for U.N. business. But we do not have an obligation to allow them to travel to Washington, D.C.,” he said.
“Given Iran’s wrongful detention of U.S. citizens, given Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism, we did not believe it was either appropriate or necessary in this instance to grant that request,” Miller said.
Iran last week allowed five U.S. citizens to leave in a prisoner swap in which the United States also arranged the transfer of $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds from South Korea to an account in Qatar.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has played down speculation that the prisoner deal could lead to broader diplomatic movement, such as a resumption of talks on Iran’s contested nuclear program.
The news site Amwaj.media first reported on Amir-Abdollahian’s hope to visit Washington, in what would have been the first by an Iranian foreign minister in 14 years.
The report, quoting anonymous sources, said that Amir-Abdollahian had said he wanted personally to review the consular operation, but that his goal may have also been “to generate positive headlines.”
The United States and Iran broke off relations after Islamic revolutionaries seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took the diplomats hostage for 444 days following the 1979 revolution that overthrew the pro-Western shah.
Iran’s consular interests section in Washington is officially under the flag of Pakistan.
The United States, under an agreement as host of the United Nations, allows representatives of all member states to travel to New York City but restricts the movement beyond the city of officials from some nations deemed hostile.
Former President Donald Trump’s administration went even further on Iran and confined Iranian officials to a few neighborhoods in New York.
Source : VOA News