Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday night that he granted a visa to Iran’s foreign minister to visit New York primarily to meet U.S. obligations to the United Nations but that his movements will be sharply curtailed, The Washington Post reported.
Pompeo said in a telephone interview that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his delegation will be permitted to travel between U.N. headquarters and the Iranian mission six blocks away, and to the residence of Iran’s U.N. ambassador nearby. The group arrived in New York on Sunday morning.
“U.S. 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 U.N. headquarters agreement, and nothing more than that,” he added.
Zarif is in New York to attend a meeting of the U.N. Economic and Social Council, a high-level ministerial meeting on sustainable development goals for issues that include conflict, hunger, gender equality and climate change. His visa was issued at the U.S. Embassy in Bern, Switzerland, a day before he arrived in the United States, the Post added.
The Trump administration has considered blacklisting Zarif by sanctioning him, even though Zarif says he has no assets outside of Iran. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on June 24 that he expected to sanction Zarif within the week.
The United States has an agreement that requires it to issue visas expeditiously to all foreign diplomats traveling to New York for U.N. events.
Sanctioning Zarif, Iran’s top diplomat, would further complicate any attempts to restart negotiations with Iran on the nuclear deal that President Trump abandoned a year ago and then started a maximum pressure campaign of sanctions that have brought Iran’s economy to the brink of collapse.