U.S. taking humanitarian issues hostage: Iran’s top diplomat

September 28, 2019 - 19:27

TEHRAN – It is a disgrace that a government takes humanitarian issues hostage for its political goals, says Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, in reference to the U.S. government’s rejection of a request by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to visit Iran’s UN ambassador in a New York hospital where he is being treated for cancer.

The U.S. State Department said on Friday that Zarif’s request to visit Ambassador Majid Takht-Ravanchi would be granted if Iran released one of several American citizens it had detained, according to Reuters.

In a post on his Instagram account on Saturday, Araqchi said, “Inshallah Majid will recover soon and will go back to his post, but disgrace will be left for a government that takes humanitarian issues hostage for its political goals.”

“Our heart, soul and thoughts are with Majid and our prayers are with him. Inshallah he will leave the hospital soon, just as energetic, committed, motivated and endearing as ever.”

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.”

“It is certainly not a friendly action. It puts the members of the mission and their families under basically inhuman conditions. But for me it’s fine because I don’t have any work anywhere other than the three buildings,” the top diplomat said at the time.

Unless they receive prior approval from Washington, the Iranian diplomats 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 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.

The spat comes amid heightened tension between Tehran and Washington following U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision over a year ago to unilaterally withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Since then the U.S. has imposed harsh sanctions on Iran with the aim of forcing Tehran to renegotiate the nuclear deal.


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