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World

Iran's Rouhani may skip UN meet over US visa delay

If the visas aren't issued in a few hours, this trip will probably be cancelled. The absence of Rouhani would
18 Sep 2019
  • If the visas aren't issued in a few hours, this trip will probably be cancelled.
  • The absence of Rouhani would ruin France's bid to arrange a meeting between him and US President Donald Trump.
  • The United States generally is obliged to issue visas to diplomats who serve at UN headquarters.

TEHRAN: Iran's President Hassan Rouhani and his delegation could be forced into skipping next week's UN General Assembly because the United States has yet to issue them visas, state media said Wednesday.

Rouhani and his delegation had been scheduled to travel to New York for the annual UN gathering on Monday, but that was now looking unlikely given the lack of visas, state news agency IRNA said.

"If the visas aren't issued in a few hours, this trip will probably be cancelled," IRNA reported.

The delegation includes Iran's top diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif, who the United States imposed sanctions against on July 31.

The foreign minister had been due to travel to New York on Friday morning, according to IRNA.

The absence of Rouhani would ruin France's bid to arrange a meeting between him and US President Donald Trump as part of European efforts to de-escalate tensions between the arch-foes.

"Iran's absence will show that in contrast with its commitments to the United Nations and international organisations within the framework of agreements, diplomacy has no value for the United States," IRNA said.

"Although the Islamic Republic of Iran has not left the scene and it continues its active diplomacy, the US government must answer for its behaviour," it added.

The UN General Assembly debate is due to begin on Tuesday.

As the host government, the United States generally is obliged to issue visas to diplomats who serve at UN headquarters.

But Iran and the United States have been at loggerheads since May last year when Trump abandoned a 2015 nuclear deal and began reimposing sanctions in its campaign of "maximum pressure".

Iran responded by scaling back its commitments under the landmark accord, which gave it the promise of sanctions relief in return for limiting the scope of its nuclear programme.