Tehran, Iran, Nov. 4
By Milad Fashtami - Trend:
Iran's Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry has reacted to the reports in regards to a recent trip by a delegation of Iranian officials to Washington.
The Washington Free Bacon website reported on October 31 that a delegation of Iranian officials paid a quiet visit to the United States late October to meet with corporate leaders and a senior State Department representative at a business forum in Pittsburgh.
According to the website, Greg Sullivan, the State Department's senior adviser for strategic communications on Iran, joined the Iranian delegation at the OASIS 7th Annual Business Conference at the Fairmont Hotel in Pittsburgh.
Sullivan gave a brief speech on cultural diplomacy at the conference before turning the stage over to Ali Moradkhani, Iran's deputy minister of culture and Islamic guidance.
The Iranian ministry published a statement on its official website on November 3, saying that the reports are contradictory and aim at putting pressure on the ministry.
The statement reads that the Iranian delegation had no official or unofficial meeting with American authorities.
The ministry says the trip was merely cultural, but certain anti-Iran groups with undocumented and biased reports are trying to pretend that it was a political move.
"The simultaneous presence of Iranian and American delegations in international events in different fields including sports, industry, trade, and ... is not unprecedented," the statement reads.
According to the Iranian ministry's statement, Iranian delegation was invited to the event for the first time.
Marie Elizabeth Harf, the deputy spokesperson for the US Department of State, also tweeted that there was "certainly nothing "shady" about promoting cultural/people-to-people ties - all the visit was about."
She added that the State Department official's presence at the event had nothing at all to do with business or anything other than cultural collaboration.
The US State Department has denied having any part in organizing the conference.
According to the Washington Free Bacon, Iran's former nuclear negotiator Hossein Mousavian, Ministry of Culture official Farzin Pirouzpey, the director of the Fajr Music Festival Ali Torabi, and Mehdi Faridzadeh of the International Society for Iranian Culture were among the members of the Iranian delegation.
However, Mousavian has rejected being a part of the team.
"I was not a member of the delegation. I was invited to the event independently, but couldn't attend since I had to deliver a speech at the Annual Arab-U.S. Policymakers Conference in Washington on the same day," Mousavian said, Iran's Khabaronline news website reported.