Iran warns US against taking UN as `hostage`

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on Saturday warned Washington against taking the United Nations "hostage" by rejecting visas to the Iranian delegates headed for a nuclear conference in New York.

Tehran: Foreign Minister Manouchehr
Mottaki on Saturday warned Washington against taking the United
Nations "hostage" by rejecting visas to the Iranian delegates
headed for a nuclear conference in New York.

"The issuing of visas to the delegation and officials
of any country coming to participate at the UN in the United
States is obligatory on the part of American officials," he
told reporters.

"The US government has no right to use the issuance of
visas as a tool against other countries. The US government ...
should not take the UN and the UNSC hostage."

The United States said yesterday it has begun
approving visas for Iranian applicants for next week`s nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference.

"We`re working through them," US State Department
spokesman Philip Crowley said asked on the status of visa
applications for a team headed by Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad.

"Some of them have been issued. Not all," Crowley
said, adding he did not know whether Ahmadinejad`s was among
those approved.

Ahmadinejad and East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta
will be the only two heads of state at the NPT conference,
Crowley added.

A senior US official told reporters on condition of
anonymity that Iran had asked for no less than 70 visas for
its delegation.

Mottaki, meanwhile, criticised Washington for
"undermining" the NPT treaty.

The conference must take place in a "transparent
atmosphere ... and the conference must concentrate ... on the
issue of (nuclear) disarmament," he said.

PTI

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