The United States rejected a request by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to visit Iran’s United Nations ambassador in a New York hospital where he is being treated for cancer, the US State Department and Iranian UN mission said.
A US State Department spokesperson said Zarif’s request would be granted if Iran released one of several American citizens it had detained, Reuters reported on Saturday.
In July, the United States imposed tight travel restrictions on Zarif before a visit that month to the United Nations, as well as on Iranian diplomats and their families living in New York, which Zarif described as “basically inhuman.”
Unless they receive prior approval from Washington, they are only allowed to travel within a small area of Manhattan, Queens and to and from John F. Kennedy airport.
Iran’s UN mission spokesman Alireza Miryousefi said Iran’s UN Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi was being treated for cancer in a hospital not far away in Manhattan’s Upper East Side neighborhood. Zarif is in New York for the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations.
“Iran has wrongfully detained several US citizens for years, to the pain of their families and friends they cannot freely visit,” the State Department spokesperson said. “We have relayed to the Iranian mission that the travel request will be granted if Iran releases a US citizen.”
At a news conference in New York on Thursday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tehran was open to talking about prisoner swaps but that the ball was in Washington’s court after Iran’s release of a Lebanese man with US permanent residency in June.
Commenting on Washington’s move on Saturday, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi criticized the US for taking humanitarian issues “hostage” for political causes, as quoted by IRNA news agency.
Source: Iranian media