0714 GMT February 29, 2020
Zarif arrived in New York on Sunday after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo signed off on the visit amid heightened tensions between the two countries. But Zarif is only allowed to travel between the United Nations, the Iranian UN mission, the Iranian UN ambassador’s residence and New York’s John F. Kennedy airport, a US State Department official said, according to Reuters.
Late last month, Washington threatened to blacklist Zarif, a move that could impede any US effort to use diplomacy to resolve disagreements with Tehran. However, sources have told Reuters that Washington had decided to hold off for now.
Longtime US-Iran strains have worsened since US President Donald Trump last year quit the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement.
Haq told reporters that the UN secretariat is “in close contact with the permanent missions of the United States and Iran to the UN and has conveyed its concerns to the host country.”
Despite the travel restrictions, Zarif did interviews on Monday with Britain’s BBC and US network NBC at the residence of the Iranian UN ambassador on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said that all of Zarif’s meetings, interviews and speeches would be done at the United Nations, the Iranian UN mission or the Iranian UN ambassador’s residence.
“Putting restrictions on his presence in some streets in New York will certainly not affect his work schedule,” he said.
Zarif is due to attend a ministerial meeting at the United Nations on sustainable development goals, which aim to tackle issues including conflict, hunger, equality and climate change by 2030.
Under the 1947 UN “headquarters agreement,” the United States is generally required to allow access to the United Nations for foreign diplomats. But Washington says it can deny visas for “security, terrorism, and foreign policy” reasons.