Wed, Jul 17, 2019 - Page 7 News List

US lets in Iranian minister, but limits his movements

BOXED IN:Iran’s top diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif was not allowed to move beyond six blocks of Tehran’s UN mission in New York in an unusually harsh restriction


Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif was giving interviews on Monday in New York after the US issued him a visa for a UN meeting, but restricted his movements.

Weeks after the US threatened sanctions against Zarif, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Washington agreed to let him enter, but forbade him from moving beyond six blocks of Iran’s UN mission in Midtown Manhattan, an unusually harsh restriction.

“US diplomats don’t roam around Tehran, so we don’t see any reason for Iranian diplomats to roam freely around New York City, either,” Pompeo told the Washington Post.

“Foreign Minister Zarif, he uses the freedoms of the United States to come here and spread malign propaganda,” he said.

His visit is the latest sign that US President Donald Trump’s administration appears to be retreating from its vow to slap sanctions on Zarif as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran.

Even from the confines of the mission, Zarif — a US-educated academic who speaks fluent English sprinkled with self-effacing humor — sought to take his message to the media, as is he usually does on UN trips.

The Iranian mission tweeted photographs of Zarif speaking to NBC News as well as the BBC.

The US, as the host nation of the United Nations, has an agreement to issue visas promptly to foreign diplomats on UN business and only rarely declines.

Zarif is scheduled to speak today at the UN Economic and Social Council, which is holding a high-level meeting on sustainable development.

US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin on June 24 said that sanctions against Zarif would come later that week.

Critics questioned the legal rationale for targeting Zarif and noted that sanctions would all but end the possibility of dialogue — which Trump has said is his goal.

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