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Iran complains president still has no US visa

Written by: Staff

Tehran, Mar 23: Iran today said the United States had so far failed to give a visa to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad so he could address the UN Security Council in New York when it meets to vote on new sanctions against Tehran.

Council members are due to meet today to review a revised draft of a UN resolution to impose additional measures on Iran for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a process the West says Iran is using to build atomic bombs.

A vote could take place on Saturday.

Senior Iranian Foreign Ministry official Abbas Araghchi, in a faxed statement, ''expressed his regret over the lack of cooperation and making barriers for issuing a visa for Iran's president and his delegation by the American government''.

The US State Department said on Monday it had approved the visa for Ahmadinejad. He insists Iran's plans are purely peaceful and has said Tehran will not reverse course.

''Despite passing all the bureaucratic stages and despite all the promises American officials gave through the media for issuing the visa for the Iranian presidential delegation, until this moment, the visas of Iran's president and his accompanying delegation have not been issued,'' Araghchi said.

''This behaviour is against consulate rules of the United Nations and it is a prejudiced policy towards Iran's peaceful atomic programme,'' he was quoted as saying in the statement.

The revised draft to be reviewed today, and which was obtained by Reuters, rejects nearly all the amendments South Africa had proposed that would have stripped the text of most provisions on weapons and financial bans.

But the negotiators provided a requested explanation of why each name on a list of 28 Iranian individuals, companies and institutions should be subject to an assets freeze.

In response, South Africa's ambassador, Dumisani Kumalo, this month's council president, expressed dismay.

The new text is a follow-up to one adopted in December banning trade in sensitive nuclear materials and ballistic missiles as well as freezing assets of individuals and institutions associated with atomic programs.

Iranian officials have brushed off the impact of the existing sanctions and any new penalties imposed.


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