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The PJ Tatler

by
Banafsheh Zand

Bio

March 8, 2011 - 9:17 pm

Recently Ali-Akbar Salehi, Iran’s new foreign minister and former Iranian representative to the IAEA complained about America’s ‘inappropriate behavior’ but added that should this behavior be corrected, that relations between the U.S. and Iran can in fact improve. While the Iranian regime’s propaganda apparatus continues to call the U.S., ‘The Great Satan’, BBC Persian reveals that Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, Ahmadinejad’s highly controversial chief of staff, has applied for a U.S. visa in order to travel to New York with a political delegation.

The Beeb writes:

“In an interview with the BBC, a high ranking official from the U.S. Department of State who wished to remain anonymous, has confirmed that an Iranian political delegation has applied for visas in order to travel to New York. Reliable sources have informed the offices of BBC Persian in Washington that the delegation will be headed by Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai. The aim of the delegation’s trip is to participate in the United Nations’ Earth Day which coincides with Norooz (the Iranian New Year) and according to the anonymous State Department source, it is likely that various meetings with American officials to discuss the prospect of the improvement of relations between the two countries will also take place. The U.S. Department of State has not yet announced whether the visa applications have been granted.”

Back in September Rahim-Mashai, whose daughter is married to Ahmadinejad’s son, accompanied Ahmadinejad to New York City for the U.N. General Assembly session. Rahim-Mashi was filmed by Voice of America reporters telling off Iranian activists (who just happened to catch him brazenly strolling through the protesters at the Dag Hammerskjold Plaza) who demanded answers in the case of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, who was sentenced to execution by stoning. Rahim-Mashai then claims that Sakineh had in fact not been, as of yet, sentenced. Of course upon his return to Iran, Rahim-Mashai was then faced with vehement attacks by the head of the Iranian judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, for having spoken out of turn.

Banafsheh Zand is a New York-based Iranian political analyst and human rights activist.

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