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Trump Says He'd Give Visas To Rouhani, Zarif 'If It Was Up To Him'

FILE - United States visa

While President Donald Trump ordered new tougher sanctions on Iran on Wednesday, he has also said that if it was up to him, he’d give Iran’s president and foreign minister U.S. visas to attend next week’s United Nations General Assembly.

Iran’s government-controlled media reported September 18 that President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif may not take part in the UN meeting as no visas have been issued. Zarif is scheduled to leave for New York on Friday and an advanced team should been there already.

The official government news agency IRNA said the visit by Rouhani and Zarif may be cancelled if they do not get their visas “within a few hours”.

It is not clear if Trump is ready to give visas to the Iranian delegation, why the State Department would not issue them.

According to Fars news agency, in 2012 the United States denied visas to about 20 Iranian government officials including two ministers hoping to attend the United Nations General Assembly.

Under the UN-US Headquarters Agreement, the U.S. must grant visa to heads of states to attend the General Assembly meetings. However, in a few cases U.S. officials have denied visa requests. The US rejected a visa request by Yasser Arafat to attend meetings of the General Assembly in 1988 on the basis that he posed a threat to U.S. security.

In 2013 the U.S. was under pressure to deny a visa to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir as in 2009 and 2010, the International Criminal Court issued warrants for his arrest, charging him with genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

With reporting by AP