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Iranian foreign minister heads to New York for UN conference amid soaring tension with US: Report

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Web Team New Delhi Jul 13, 2019, 09.23 PM (IST)

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif travelled to New York on Saturday to a United Nations conference, news agency Reuters reported quoting Iran's state news agency IRNA, amid rising tension between Washington and Tehran.

Tension is running high between the United States and Iran over Tehran's nuclear programme and Washington has blamed Iranian forces for attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf region, a charge Tehran denies.

The two nations came close to conflict last month when Iran shot down a US drone, prompting Washington to order retaliatory airstrikes which was called off at the last minute.

Zarif will attend a meeting of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in New York and would then travel to Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua, the report added quoting IRNA.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in June that Washington would impose sanctions on top Iranian officials, including Zarif, a step that could have impeded any diplomatic efforts to resolve their disagreements.

But two sources familiar with the matter told on Thursday the United States had decided not to impose sanctions on Zarif for now, in a sign that Washington might be holding a door open for diplomacy.

President Donald Trump withdrew the United States last year from a 2015 accord between Iran and world powers that had aimed to curb Tehran's nuclear programme.

Washington has ratcheted up sanctions on Iran since then, driving Iranian oil exports sharply lower.

Story highlights

Tension is running high between the United States and Iran over Tehran's nuclear programme and Washington has blamed Iranian forces for attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf region, a charge Tehran denies.