US grants visa to Iran’s Zarif for UN meeting, limits him and delegation to 6 blocks
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that he granted a visa to Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Zarif and his delegation to visit New York, primarily to meet US obligations to the United Nations, but that his movements would be sharply curtailed.
Pompeo said in a phone interview that Zarif and his delegation are likely to travel six blocks between the United Nations headquarters and the Iranian mission and to the Iranian UN ambassador’s residence. The group arrived in New York on Sunday morning.
“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 said.
“It’s absolutely appropriate that we provide Foreign Minister Zarif and his delegation with all the rights that they are due under the UN headquarters agreement, and nothing more than that.”
The Trump administration has considered blacklisting Zarif by sanctioning it, although Zarif claims to have no assets outside of Iran.
His visa was issued at the US Embassy in Bern, Switzerland, a day before he arrived in the United States.
Zarif is in New York to attend a meeting of the UN Economic and Social Council, a high-level ministerial meeting on sustainable development goals for issues that include conflict, hunger, gender equality and climate change.
“Foreign Minister Zarif uses the freedoms of the United States to come here and spread malicious propaganda,” Pompeo said. “This is a leader who supports a regime that imprisons political dissidents and terribly treats women. They are looking for peaceful worshipers. He is the mouthpiece of this autocracy. And they suppress the freedom of speech. ”
Pompeo said he would accept any offer to go to Iranian television, just as Zarif has appeared on US television. He said he would tell the Iranians that “we are very interested in them, that we support the Iranian people, that we understand that the revolutionary theocracy is not acting in a way that is in their best interests.”