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UN Voices Concern Over U.S. Travel Limitations On Iran's Foreign Minister


Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister, arrived in New York on July 14 to attend a United Nations conference.

The United Nations has voiced its concern to the United States over travel restrictions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during his visit to New York this week for a UN meeting.

Zarif arrived in New York on July 14 and is scheduled to take part in a meeting on July 17 of the UN’s Economic and Social Council.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo signed off on the visit amid heightened tensions between the two countries.

But Zarif is only allowed to travel between the United Nations, the Iranian UN mission, the Iranian UN ambassador's residence, and New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, a U.S. State Department official said.

The official accused Zarif of using U.S. freedoms "to spread malign propaganda" and said Zarif "is a mouthpiece of an autocracy that suppresses free speech."

Washington generally bars diplomats of nations considered hostile from traveling outside a 40-kilometer radius of New York's Columbus Circle.

Despite the travel restrictions, Zarif did interviews on July 15 with the BBC and NBC at the residence of the Iranian UN ambassador on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

UN spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters on July 15 that the UN secretariat is "in close contact with the permanent missions of the United States and Iran to the UN and has conveyed its concerns to the host country."

Longtime U.S.-Iran strains have worsened since U.S. President Donald Trump last year withdrew the United States from a 2015 international agreement to curb Iran's nuclear program in return for sanctions relief.

The U.S. special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, said no U.S. government officials would meet with Zarif.

"There is no back channel currently going on between the United States and anybody in the Iranian regime. Everything that's being said is being said by the president and the secretary of state publicly," Hook told Fox News on July 15.

Based on reporting by AFP, dpa, and Reuters