The United States has denied visas to about 20 Iranian officials who wanted to attend the United Nations General Assembly next week. Those who are banned to travel to the United States also include two ministers and personal staff of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. The U.S. officials said that two months back, Iran requested visas for around 160 officials to take part in the U.N. General Assembly session but requests of about 20 of them were turned down for different reasons. The basic reason behind rejection of the visas of these officials is that the U.S. suspects to be allied closely with Iran’s controversial nuclear program.
However, the U.S. did not give any specific details on why visas to these officials were denied. Iran’s Fars news agency reported Saturday that Ahmedinejad would be accompanied by his chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie and Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi. The news agency did not give names of the two ministers to whom visas were denied but it did identify two officials who were banned from travel to the United States along with the President Ahmedinejad as Mohammad Shaikhan, in charge of communications and information, and Mohammad Jafar Behdad, in charge of political affairs.
It may be pertinent to mention here that Ahmedinejad has been a regular visitor of the U.N. General Assembly where he has been defending the country’s controversial nuclear program. He has been the only leader in the General Assembly who has questioned authenticity of the Holocaust and criticized hte role of the United States, Israel and European countries in establishing peace across the globe. During his speech, most of the European envoys walked out of the U.N. chamber in protest. Ahmedinejad has also made verbal attacks on the U.S., Israel and some European countries for their biased attitude towards the Muslim world.
It is being expected that Ahmedinejad will make headlines in the national and international media by highlighting the issue of blasphemy in the U.N. General Assembly. He is likely to lash out at the U.S. and Western countries for their alleged connivance with the makers of the blasphemous film, Innocence of Muslims, and sacrilegious cartoons published in a French magazine. In the past, Ahmedinejad has been the only leader who has questioned authenticity of September 11 attacks. In one of his speeches, he asked members of the U.N. General Assembly how the U.S. determined that Islamist hijackers were the actual brains behind the 9/11 attacks.
He has also been using the forum to defend the country’s controversial nuclear program, saying that his country does not desire to develop nuclear weapons and it is their right to pursue the technology for the civilian purposes. Let’s see what happens this time.