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Iran Slams US for Barring Zarif From New York Hospital Visit

Iran Slams US for Barring Zarif From New York Hospital Visit

Saturday, 28 September, 2019 - 07:45
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks at "Common Security in the Islamic World" forum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia August 29, 2019. REUTERS/Lai Seng Sin

Iran has criticized the US for its "inhumane" decision to bar its foreign minister — who is attending the UN summit meetings — from visiting a hospitalized Iranian diplomat in New York.

The official IRNA news agency Saturday quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi as saying the US has taken humanitarian issues "hostage" for political causes.

American authorities forbade Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif from visiting a New York hospital to see Iran's UN ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi, who is under cancer treatment.

The US State Department said it would allow the hospital travel request only if Iran released one of several US citizens it is currently "wrongfully detained."

“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.”

The United States and Iran are at odds over a host of issues, including the US withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, US accusations - denied by Tehran - that Iran attacked two Saudi oil facilities on Sept. 14, and Iran’s detention of US citizens on what the United States regards as spurious grounds.

Brian Hook, the State Department’s special representative for Iran, on Monday said that if Iran wanted to show good faith, it should release the US citizens it has detained, including Xiyue Wang, a US citizen and Princeton University graduate student who was detained in Iran in 2016.

In July, the US restricted Zarif's movement to just six blocks in New York.

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