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Russia blasts US for denying visas to UN team members

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Delegations gather in the General Assembly Hall for the 2019 United Nations Climate Action Summit at UN headquarters in New York City, New York, US, September 23, 2019. (Photo by Reuters)

Moscow has lashed out at the United States for denying visas to several members of the Russian delegation to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), saying the move contravenes the US’s international commitments.

In a statement on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Ministry said that 10 members of the Russian delegation to the UNGA session, including seven employees of the ministry and Leonid Slutsky, the head of the International Affairs Committee of the Russian lower house, had been denied visas, Interfax reported.

The ministry also dismissed as “untenable” the US’s references to technical reasons for denying visas.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov called the US move “outrageous,” saying that Moscow would respond in kind.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the United States’ refusal to provide visas to Russian UN delegates warrants a tough response from both Moscow and the United Nations.

As the host government, the US is generally obliged to issue visas to diplomats who serve at UN headquarters.

Interfax quoted the ministry's spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as saying that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would discuss the issue with his US counterpart Mike Pompeo in New York.

In a similar hostile move, the United States also refused to issue visas to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s aides and the team of reporters, who were  to accompany him to New York.

The US had also delayed issuing visas for President Rouhani and other Iranian officials.

‘Iran president subjected to restrictions in NY’

Meanwhile, AFP quoted diplomats as saying that the US government has imposed strict travel restrictions on President Rouhani.

Under the restrictions, Rouhani cannot move far from the UN headquarters, which sits on the eastern side of Manhattan Island.

A UN official said the US has in the past imposed similar limitations on other foreign leaders, including the late Fidel Castro of Cuba, who were not in good terms with Washington.

Similar restrictions have been imposed on staff at the Iranian mission to the United Nations since July.

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