President Ahmadinejad speaking to reporters in Tehran earlier this month (ISNA)
March 24, 2007 -- Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has canceled a planned visit to New York to address the UN Security Council because of what Iran says were U.S. delays in granting visas to his entourage.
Foreign ministry spokesman Muhammad Ali Hosseini confirmed on March 23 an earlier announcement by Tehran's UN Ambassador Javad Zarif about the cancellation.
Ahmadinejad was to address the council before it votes on imposing new sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program. The meeting is scheduled for today, with a vote on sanctions expected at around 3 p.m. local time.
U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the passports with the visas were delivered in the morning of March 23 at the U.S. Embassy in Bern, Switzerland, but Zarif said that was "too late."
Zarif said Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki, who had received his visa earlier on March 23, would take a commercial flight to New York to address the council.
(Reuters, AFP, AP)