U.S. stops 20 Iran officials attending U.N. assembly - report

DUBAI Sun Sep 23, 2012 10:58am IST

The United Nations General Assembly building is seen silhouetted during the 66th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, September 22, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

The United Nations General Assembly building is seen silhouetted during the 66th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, September 22, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Thayer

Related Topics

Polluted waters of China

Polluted waters of China

Growing cities, overuse of fertilizers, and factory wastewater have degraded China's water supplies to the extent that half the nation's rivers and lakes are severely polluted.  Slideshow 

DUBAI (Reuters) - The United States has denied visas to about 20 Iranian government officials hoping to attend next week's United Nations General Assembly, including two ministers, Iran's Fars news agency reported on Saturday.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a regular at the assembly since he took office in 2005, will give his final speech there on Wednesday and will address a meeting on the "rule of law" on Monday.

But of the 160-or-so visas requested by the Iranian delegation two months ago, about 20 were turned down, Fars said.

It gave no reason, but many Iranian officials are subject to travel bans under sanctions related to Iran's nuclear programme.

In Washington, the U.S. State Department had no immediate comment on the matter.

Fars did not name the two ministers who were denied visas and said Ahmadinejad would be accompanied by his chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie and Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi.

Fars named two of those banned from going to New York as members of Ahmadinejad's staff: Mohammad Shaikhan, in charge of communications and information, and Mohammad Jafar Behdad, in charge of political affairs.

A U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity said: "Visas for foreign officials to attend UN meetings in the UN headquarters district are adjudicated in accordance with all applicable laws and procedures including both U.S. law and the UN Headquarters Agreement, however, visa records are confidential."

As U.N. host country, the United States has a policy of issuing visas for members of delegations, in line with a 1947 pact with the United Nations, regardless of disputes with individual countries.

However, it does sometimes refuse entry to government officials and professionals from Iran with which it has had no diplomatic ties since 1979 and which it accuses of seeking nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies.

In 2009, as Iranian authorities were crushing protests against Ahmadinejad's re-election, Iran said a delegation headed by its first vice president had been refused visas to attend a U.N. conference on the global financial crisis.

Ahmadinejad, whose second and final term in office ends next year, has used previous U.N. speeches to defend a nuclear programme he insists is peaceful and to make verbal attacks on Israel, the United States and Europe.

He has questioned the historical truth of the Holocaust and cast doubt on whether Islamist hijackers were really responsible for the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Most Western envoys walk out of the U.N. chamber during his speeches, in protest.

(Reporting By Yeganeh Torbati; Additional reporting by Jim Wolf in Washington; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

WORLD SHOWCASE

Ukraine Crisis

Ukraine Crisis

Obama says strains over Ukraine not leading to new Cold War with Russia.  Full Article 

'National Hero' Dead

'National Hero' Dead

Sierra Leone's top Ebola doctor dies from virus.  Full Article 

Malaysia Tourism

Malaysia Tourism

Malaysia tries to parlay appeal to Muslim visitors into medical tourism push.  Full Article 

Graft Crackdown

Graft Crackdown

Exclusive: China's Xi reached deal with former leaders to investigate ex-security chief - sources.  Full Article 

Cyber Attack

Cyber Attack

Israel's 'Iron Dome' makers were hit by hackers, expert says.  Full Article 

Campus Flooding

Campus Flooding

Massive water main break floods UCLA campus.  Video 

Quality Issues

Quality Issues

In China food testing, safety inspectors are often one step behind.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage