U.S. will keep Zarif from 'roaming' beyond 6-block radius in NY

The problem for Washington is that if Iran's foreign minister can’t meet anyone, then how can a diplomatic resolution be reached?

July 16, 2019 12:26
2 minute read.
U.S. will keep Zarif from 'roaming' beyond 6-block radius in NY

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during the economic forum in Sulaimaniya, Iraq January 15, 2019. (photo credit: AKO RASHEED / REUTERS)

The State Department sent Brian Hook, the US Special Representative for Iran, to speak about why Washington has decided to keep Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif confined to a six-block radius when he comes to the US for a United Nations meeting.

“We don’t need to let Iranians roam freely in New York City,” Hook said. 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that, “US diplomats don’t roam around Tehran, so we don’t see any reason for Iranian diplomats to roam freely around New York City either.” 

In the past, Zarif has used his time in the US wisely, giving talks and making media appearances, grinning and having an enjoyable time while on American soil. He likes being in the US, and generally seems affable and happiest while touring New York or speaking to think tanks. He’s even a minor celebrity in some spaces. So the Trump administration, which had considered sanctioning Zarif, has sought instead to keep him reined in around the UN corral.

The problem for Washington is that officially the desire to sanction Iran and apply “maximum pressure” is to achieve a new Iran deal. If Zarif can’t meet anyone then how can a diplomatic resolution take place?

In May it was revealed that Zarif had dinner with US Senator Diane Feinstein. She had consulted with the State Department prior to the meeting, according to reports at the time.

It remains to be seen if keeping the Iranian foreign minister penned in to the six-block radius area will keep him out of the limelight in the US. If history shows anything, it is that he will likely find his way to explain Iran’s demands regardless of the new limitation. 

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