Wednesday, September 07, 2005

US grants Iranian president visa for U.N

The United States said on Wednesday it had granted a visa to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to attend U.N. meetings in New York but was still looking into his role in the 1979 U.S. Embassy storming in Tehran.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the United States had issued a U.S. travel visa to Ahmadinejad on Tuesday in Bern, Switzerland, which would allow him to attend U.N. meetings along with other heads of state next week.

"The decision to allow President Ahmadinejad, as Iranian head of government, to travel to the U.N., is in keeping with past practice and in accordance with our obligations under the U.N. headquarters agreement," said McCormack. READ MORE

However, he stressed the issuing of the visa in no way indicated a change of U.S. policy toward Iran's government. In addition, the United States was still looking into the Iranian president's alleged involvement in the 1979 hostage crisis that lasted 444 days.

The United States says Ahmadinejad was a leader in the student movement behind the embassy takeover and is trying to determine whether he was a hostage-taker, which he and those who took part deny.

"There are still unresolved questions concerning his activities surrounding the taking of the American embassy in Tehran and his activities in that subsequent period in which American citizens were held for 444 days. We have not forgotten that."