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Ahmadinejad Calls Off Trip to US

  • VOA News

Iranian President President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called off his trip to New York to attend a critical United Nations Security Council meeting.

Iranian officials say the trip was canceled because the United States issued visas too late.

But State Department officials say all 75 visas for Mr. Ahmadinejad, his security detail, flight crew, and other officials were approved and handed over to Iranian representatives in Switzerland Friday. They say the visas were approved even though some of the applications were incomplete.

The State Department says the United States fulfilled its host country obligations in time for Mr. Ahmadinejad to travel to New York.

The Iranian president had wanted to address the Security Council before it considers imposing new sanctions on Iran for refusing to stop enriching uranium. U.N. diplomats say they hope the Council will vote on the draft resolution Saturday.

Representatives from Germany and the five permanent Council members -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China -- agreed Thursday on minor changes to the resolution.

The draft resolution strengthens penalties imposed late last year after Iran refused to stop enriching uranium. The United States and its allies suspect Iran is working to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran denies the charge and insists it has a right to develop a peaceful nuclear energy program.

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