US denies Iran′s Zarif visa for UN Security Council meeting: reports | News | DW | 07.01.2020
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US denies Iran's Zarif visa for UN Security Council meeting: reports

Iran's UN mission has said it has yet to be informed of the decision to deny the foreign minister an entry visa. The UN Security Council meeting would be his first chance to address the US killing of Iran's top general.

The United States has denied Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif a visa to attend a scheduled UN Security Council meeting later this week, according to US media reports.

The Iranian mission to the UN, however, said it had yet to receive information concerning Zarif's visa, which he requested weeks ago.

"We have seen the media reports, but we have not received any official communication from either the US or the UN regarding Foreign Minister Zarif's visa," the Iranian mission told Reuters news agency.

Read more: US, Iran on precipice of unpredictable Middle East war

Watch video 02:34

Iran promises 'harsh retaliation'

'Criminal act'

The UN Security Council meeting, scheduled for Thursday, would be Zarif's first chance to address the international community after last Friday's killing of top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in a US drone attack.

Iran's UN envoy Majid Takht Ravanchi has urged the Security Council to condemn the attack and take steps to curb such unilateral actions by the US.

Soleimani's killing was "an obvious example of state terrorism and, as a criminal act, constitutes a gross violation of the fundamental principles of international law, including, in particular … the Charter of the United Nations," he said.

Read more: Opinion: Trump risking war in the Middle East

Calls for calm

The news of Zarif's visa denial came shortly after the Pentagon distanced itself on Monday from US President Donald Trump's assertion that American forces would target Iranian cultural sites, despite international restrictions.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the US would "follow the laws of armed conflict" if there were any military engagement with Iran. Observers widely believe that the US and Iran are on the precipice of military confrontation following the killing of Soleimani. Iranian officials have vowed retaliation, although it is unclear what that might look like. Responding to Trump on Monday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned on Twitter: "Never threaten the Iranian nation."

Rouhani also referred to the 1988 shooting down of an Iranian airliner by a US warship, in which 290 were killed. 

European countries, including Germany, have called for de-escalation. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has urged "all parties to exercise utmost restraint and responsibility."

Soleimani's body is due to be buried in his hometown of Kerman on Tuesday.

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ls/cmk (Reuters, AP)

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