Iranian FM on rare visit to Washington

Last Updated: Thursday, October 1, 2009 - 16:21

Washington: In a surprising development, the Iranian Foreign Minister has arrived on a rare visit to Washington, but the Obama administration said it has no plans to have any talks with him.

"It is true," Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, PJ Crowley, said during his press briefing yesterday when asked about reports that Manoucher Mottaki is in Washington to visit the Iranian Interests Section at the Pakistani embassy to the United States.

The US and Iran have not had formal diplomatic relations since the 1980 Iranian revolution.

The Obama administration, which granted the request with striking speed, however, asserted that it has no plans to have any talks with the visiting Iranian Foreign Minister.

"There were no plans that he will meet with anyone from the United States Government, and I’m not aware of any plans that he would meet with anyone on behalf of the United
States Government," Crowley said as he tried to play down the significance of the US move.

Noting that the permission for Mottaki to visit Washington may have been given in the last 24 hours, Crowley said: "They (Iranians) made this specific request. He wanted to visit the Iranian Interests Section at the Pakistani embassy, and we granted that request."

He said the US is far more interested in having Iran come tomorrow to Geneva. "We hope that they will be the ones who are offering gestures that they are ready to address the concerns that the international community has," Crowley said.

Mottaki’s rare visit to Washington comes on the eve of the crucial talks in Geneva between P5 plus 1 the US, Britain, China, Russia, France and German -- and Iran on nuclear and other related issues.

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First Published: Thursday, October 1, 2009 - 16:21

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