Rep. Mike Pompeo of Kansas and two of his House Republican colleagues have requested a travel visa from Iran to monitor the elections taking place there on Feb. 26.
In their application to the Iran Interests Section in Washington on Thursday, Pompeo and his colleagues also requested meetings with Iran’s president, foreign minister and the head of its nuclear program.
The application, hand-delivered on Thursday, is addressed to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
“We welcome the opportunity to be convinced that these elections will be fair and free,” they wrote.
Pompeo, Reps. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., and Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., also want to meet with Americans who are still being held in Iran, visit the country’s nuclear sites and receive a briefing on a Jan. 12 incident where Iran detained 10 U.S. Navy personnel whose boat had strayed into the country’s territorial waters.
The lawmakers requested “an unmonitored and lengthy meeting” with the American prisoners and want Iran’s military to clarify whether its treatment of the detained U.S. sailors violated the Geneva Conventions.
We welcome the opportunity to be convinced that these elections will be fair and free.
Reps. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., and Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., in visa request letter to Iran
Pompeo, of Wichita, is a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Republicans have been critical of the Iran nuclear weapons deal negotiated by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry. The deal would ease sanctions on the country in exchange for dismantling its nuclear weapons program.
In a statement, Pompeo said it was part of Congress’s responsibility to verify whether Iran would uphold the deal’s terms and ensure that the country’s elections are free and fair.
“If Iran is truly a partner in peace, as President Obama and Secretary Kerry claim,” Pompeop said, “then Iranian leaders should have no problem granting our visas and arranging the requested agenda. I look forward to receiving a timely response from Iran.”
In a prisoner swap last month, Iran released four Americans who’d been held there, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian. Rezaian was detained in Iran for 544 days, longer than any other Western journalist.
The State Department discourages Americans from traveling to Iran. In a travel warning last week, the department encouraged U.S. citizens to “carefully consider nonessential travel.”
“Various elements in Iran remain hostile to the United States,” the department said, in spite of recent improvements in diplomatic relations between the two countries.
“The U.S. government’s ability to assist U.S. citizens in Iran in the event of an emergency is extremely limited,” it said.
The State Department said it was not aware of any visits to Iran by sitting members of Congress in recent years and that it had not been contacted by the three lawmakers about their travel plans.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled the last name of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian.