Iran said on Saturday it would stop U.S. citizens entering the country in retaliation to Washington’s visa ban against Tehran and six other majority-Muslim countries announced by new U.S. President Donald Trump.
“While respecting the American people and distinguishing between them and the hostile policies of the U.S. government, Iran will implement the principle of reciprocity until the offensive U.S. limitations against Iranian nationals are lifted,” a Foreign Ministry statement said.
“The restrictions against travel by Muslims to America… are an open affront against the Muslim world and the Iranian nation in particular and will be known as a great gift to extremists,” said the statement, carried by state media.
The U.S. ban will make it virtually impossible for relatives and friends of an estimated one million Iranian-Americans to visit the United States
Earlier on Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said it was no time to build walls between nations and criticised steps towards cancelling world trade agreements, without naming Trump.
Trump on Wednesday ordered the construction of a U.S.-Mexican border wall, a major promise during his election campaign, as part of a package of measures to curb illegal immigration.
“Today is not the time to erect walls between nations. They have forgotten that the Berlin wall fell years ago,” Rouhani said in a speech carried live on Iranian state television.
“To annul world trade accords does not help their economy and does not serve the development and blooming of the world economy,” Rouhani told a tourism conference in Tehran. “This is the day for the world to get closer through trade.”
The protectionist-minded Trump formally withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal on Monday, fulfilling a campaign pledge to end American involvement in the 2015 pact.
Rouhani, a pragmatist elected in 2013, thawed Iran’s relations with world powers after years of confrontation and engineered its 2015 deal with them under which it curbed its nuclear programme in exchange for relief from sanctions.
Iran also known as Persia (US /ˈpɜːrʒə/,UK /ˈpɜːrʃə/), officially the Islamic Republic of Iran (جمهوری اسلامی ایران Jomhuri-ye Eslāmi-ye Irān [d͡ʒomhuːˌɾiːje eslɒːˌmiːje ʔiːˈɾɒːn]), is a sovereign state in Western Asia. It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia, the de facto Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, and Azerbaijan; to the north by the Caspian Sea; to the northeast by Turkmenistan; to the east byAfghanistan and Pakistan; to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman; and to the west by Turkey and Iraq.
Comprising a land area of 1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi), it is the second-largest country in the Middle East and the 18th-largest in the world. With 82.8 million inhabitants, Iran is the world’s 17th-most-populous country. It is the only country with both a Caspian Sea and an Indian Ocean coastline. The country’s central location in Eurasia and Western Asia, and its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, make it of great geostrategic importance. Tehran is the country’s capital and largest city, as well as its leading economic center.
Iran is heir to one of the world’s oldest civilizations, beginning with the formation of the Proto-Elamite and Elamite kingdoms in 3200–2800 BC. The area was first unified by the Iranian Medes in 625 BC, who became the dominant cultural and political power in the region. Iran reached its greatest geographic extent during the Achaemenid Empire founded by Cyrus the Greatin 550 BC, which at one time stretched from parts of Eastern Europe in the west, to the Indus Valley in the east, making it the largest empire the world had yet seen. The empire collapsed in 330 BC following the conquests of Alexander the Great, but reemerged shortly after as the Parthian Empire. Under the Sassanid Dynasty, Iran again became one of the leading powers in the world for the next four centuries.
Beginning in 633 AD, Arabs conquered Iran and largely displaced the indigenous faiths of Manichaeism and Zoroastrianism by Islam. Iran became a major contributor to the Islamic Golden Age that followed, producing many influential scientists, scholars, artists, and thinkers. The rise of the Safavid Dynasty in 1501 led to the establishment of Twelver Shia Islam as the official religion of Iran, marking one of the most important turning points in Iranian and Muslim history. During the 18th century, Iran reached its greatest territorial extent since the Sassanid Empire, and under Nader Shah briefly possessed what was arguably the most powerful empire at the time. Through the late 18th and 19th centuries, a series of conflicts with Russia led to significant territorial losses and the erosion of sovereignty. Popular unrest culminated in the Persian Constitutional Revolution of 1906, which established a constitutional monarchy and the country’s first legislative body, the Majles. Following acoup d’état instigated by the U.K. and the U.S. in 1953, Iran gradually became closely aligned with the West but grew increasingly autocratic. Growing dissent against foreign influence and political repression led to the 1979 Revolution and the establishment of an Islamic republic.
Iran is a major regional and middle power, and its large reserves of fossil fuels — which include the largest natural gas supply in the world and the fourth-largest proven oil reserves — exert considerable influence in international energy security and the world economy. Iran’s rich cultural legacy is reflected in part by its 21 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the third-largest number in Asia and 11th-largest in the world.
Iran is a founding member of the UN, ECO, NAM, OIC, and OPEC. Its political system is based on the 1979 Constitution which combines elements of a parliamentary democracy with a theocracy governed by Islamic jurists under the concept of a Supreme Leadership. A multicultural country comprising numerous ethnic and linguistic groups, most inhabitants are Shia Muslims and Persian is the official language.
(Reporting by Parisa Hafezi, Dubai Newsroom, Writing by William Maclean; editing by Ralph Boulton)