Iran minister says US won't grant him visit for UN visit

Iran minister says US won't grant him visit for UN visit
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers a statement on Iraq and Syria, at President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago property, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Iran’s foreign minister says he’s been told he won’t get a U.S. visa to travel to the United Nations later this week.

Mohammed Javad Zarif told “CBS This Morning” on Tuesday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo informed the U.N. secretary general, who in turn relayed to Zarif, that “they didn’t have time to review my request.”

Zarif’s trip would have been an opportunity for him to discuss the U .S. killing of a top Iranian general in Baghdad last week. That targeted killing has escalated tensions with Iran, which has vowed to retaliate.

It’s not clear that Zarif’s request has been formally rejected, which would trigger legal technicalities that could affect future visa applications. A U.S. official said the visa application had not been processed but declined to comment on whether it had been formally denied. The State Department cited visa confidentiality laws that bar the release of such information with certain limited exceptions.

Pompeo plans to speak to reporters Tuesday morning.

Zarif had applied for the visa in order to speak to a U.N. Security Council session Thursday about the importance of upholding the U.N. charter. A senior U.S. official said Friday that “these things take time” but would not give details of the situation.

“This is because they fear someone will go there and tell the truth to the American people,” Zarif said earlier Tuesday. “But they are mistaken. The world is not limited to New York. You can speak with American people from Tehran too and we will do that.”

Under its obligations as the host country of the U.N. headquarters, the U.S. is required in most circumstances to issue visas to foreign officials for meetings at the world body. However, there are exceptions and the U.S. has severely restricted the movements of Iranian diplomats in New York in the past. It has also moved to bar non-U.N.-related travel by other foreign officials, notably the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.