US embassy plan in Tehran "deceptive," Iranian speaker says
A plan by the United States to set up a de facto embassy in Tehran was "deceptive," Iranian Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani said Thursday,reported dpa.
"I generally do not comment on rumours, but these rumours rather sound deceptive," Larijani told Fars news agency.
There have been US press reports and official indications that Washington was considering opening a so-called interests section, or unofficial embassy, in Tehran which would also issue visas for Iranian nationals with relatives in the US.
"The Americans are not stable in what they say. Two years ago we suggested direct flights (from Tehran) to the US. If the Americans were really serious in this regard, then they would have at least replied," Larijani said.
Larijani was referring to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's offer to resume direct flights to the US in order to facilitate family reunions. The US aviation organization rejected the offer at that time.
Although the plan to open an interests section in Tehran has not yet been confirmed by Washington, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she wished to see more Iranians visiting the US.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry has not yet reacted to the plan, but Iranians were likely to welcome the opening of an interests section in Tehran as currently they have to go to neighbouring Dubai or Istanbul to apply for a visa and pay at least 1,000 dollars per trip.
Family reunions have in the meantime become more complicated as, according to the latest US regulations, Iranian applicants must first apply for a visa and then wait about eight weeks for a reply. If approved, another trip would be necessary to pick up the visa.
Millions of Iranians emigrated to the US following the 1979 Islamic revolution. Their children were born in the US, and most of them have in the meantime become US citizens. All of them, however, have relatives in Iran.
Diplomatic relations between Iran and the US were broken off after the 444-day occupation of the US embassy in Tehran in 1979 by radical Iranian students.
Since then, the two sides have viewed each other with hostility. Washington branded Tehran part of an "axis of evil," and a supporter of terrorism allegedly attempting to develop nuclear weapons.
Iran denies the accusations and terms the US the "Great Satan" and an enemy of Islam and Muslims.