Vice President to Pursue Issue of Direct Iran-US Flight

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Former caretaker of Iran’s High Council for Iranian Expatriates Akbar Trokan said on Monday he will no longer be in charge of pursuing resumption of direct Iran-US flight, as the vice president for executive affairs is now in charge of the mission.

Vice President to Pursue Issue of Direct Iran-US Flight

Torkan told the Tasnim News Agency that Vice President for Executive Affairs Mohammad Shariatmadari is now in charge of pursuing the issue and he is the one who can answer the questions related to the matter.

Days after the historic phone conversation between the US President Barack Obama and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, Tehran said it would study how to restore direct flights to the US for the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Rouhani had directed a top presidential aide, Akbar Torkan, to pursue the resumption of Iran-US flights, which stopped 34 years ago after the US broke off its diplomatic ties with Iran.

Torkan, the former caretaker of Iran’s High Council for Iranian Expatriates, had told local news agencies that Rouhani had issued the order following his meeting with Iranian expatriates in New York on the sidelines of his visit to the United Nations in late September.

He has ordered studying the start of direct flights between Iran and the United States in order to obviate the problems facing the Iranian expatriates’ visits, Torkan was quoted as saying.

IranAir's chairman Farhad Parvaresh has also said his airline is ready to launch direct flights between Iran and the US if the required permissions are issued.

In New York, Rohani participated in a dinner thrown for Iranians living in the US and pledged to facilitate their travel to Iran. The US, and Los Angeles in particular, is home to hundreds of thousands of Iranian expatriates.

"It is the natural right of every Iranian to be able to visit his or her homeland, Rohani told a cheering crowd in New York. Iran belongs to all Iranians … No one is allowed to deprive the Iranians from smelling the scent of their homeland," said President Rouhani.

Travelers between Iran and the US currently have to change flights in a third country, usually in Europe or the Persian Gulf states. Although personal travel is generally exempted from US sanctions, experts say there are a couple of major obstacles before an Iran-US direct flight can resume.

The US treasury has barred Iranian airlines including Iran Air from being allowed to land or operate in the US. Furthermore, extraterritorial US sanctions prevents European airports from providing Iranian carriers with fuel or accepting money from them.

Unlike US flights, Iranian airlines still travel to London directly but are denied re-fuelling. Iran Air has at least three flights a week to London but has to stop in Ljubljana, Slovenia, to refuel each time it returns to Tehran. It can refuel in Ljubljana since the airport there has no direct flight to the US.

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