WASHINGTON – The U.S. will approve Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's request for a visa so he can visit the U.N. as the Security Council moves to impose additional sanctions against his country for its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Friday that the United States has approved a visa for Ahmedinejad previously and will do so again, consistent with its obligations as host country for the United Nations.
Ahmadinejad has been a vociferous defender of his nation's nuclear efforts and critic of the U.S.
On Thursday, the five permanent members of the Security Council — the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France — along with Germany compromised on a sanctions package to step up pressure on the Islamic republic to suspend uranium enrichment. The full council will consider the measures in coming days.
At a rally Thursday in the central city of Meibod, Ahmadinejad said, "These threats won't have one iota of effect on the strong will of the Iranian nation."
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McCormack said, "We will do everything we can to expedite the visa."
The visa request was submitted for Ahmadinejad and his traveling party through the U.S. embassy in Switzerland.
McCormack pointed out that any U.N. member subject to a Security Council resolution has the right of rebuttal.
He expressed hope that when the visit takes place, Ahmadinejad will take advantage of an offer by the permanent members of Security Council plus Germany to open a negotiation on Iran's nuclear program.