Tehran warns US 'virtual embassy' plans in Iran will fail
TEHRAN - US plans to launch a "virtual embassy" for Iran will fail, the speaker of Iran's parliament said Thursday, according to the website of the state broadcaster IRIB.
"If the Americans believe they can do something in Iran with a virtual (embassy), they are mistaken. These declarations shouldn't be taken seriously because they're a sign of political shortcomings" on the part of the United States, Ali Larijani was quoted as saying.
The remark was a dismissal of an announcement made Wednesday by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in an interview to BBC Farsi.
Clinton said that, in the next two months, the United States would open a "virtual embassy": an online site that would respond to questions about US visa and study options, and that would address the Iranian population directly.
"We’re trying to reach out to the Iranian people, and we’ve tried to reach out to the government, just not very successfully," Clinton said.
The United States and Iran have not had diplomatic relations since 1979, when a group of Islamic students took American diplomats hostage in the US embassy in Tehran following Iran's revolution.
Currently, Iranians wanting to travel to the United States have to ask for visas in the United Arab Emirates or in Turkey.
Iran blocks Internet access to websites of the US government websites and to media, including BBC Farsi broadcasts.
Larijani also lashed out at comments by Clinton encouraging the Iranian people to appeal for international support if they again made protests similar to ones in 2009 that followed the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"If she is hoping for a protest movement inside Iran, she has to know that the protest movements in the region (ie. the Arab spring), are the result of the Islamic revolution in Iran ... This sort of comment only reinforces the national unity of Iranians," Larijani said.