The United States has granted a visa to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to attend U.N. meetings in New York but said Wednesday that it was still investigating whether he had a role in the 1979 U.S. Embassy siege in Tehran.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the United States had issued a travel visa to Ahmadinejad on Tuesday in Bern, Switzerland, which would allow him to attend United Nations meetings with other world leaders next week.
Switzerland has handled U.S. interests in Iran since Washington cut ties with Tehran in 1980, and the U.S. and Iran are at odds now over efforts by Washington and its allies to rein in Tehran’s nuclear programs.
McCormack stressed that the visa in no way indicated a change of policy toward Iran’s government. He said the United States was still looking into Ahmadinejad’s alleged involvement in the 1979 hostage crisis but declined to give details.
The United States suspects Ahmadinejad was a leader in the student movement behind the embassy takeover and is trying to determine whether he was a hostage-taker.
Iran has rejected the accusations that Ahmadinejad was involved in the siege.