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Iranian finance minister in Washington for IMF

From Elise Labott, CNN Senior State Department Producer
  • Shamseddin Hosseini has said he is willing to give interviews
  • State Dept. must OK Iranian officials' visits to sites in U.S. other than U.N.
  • Hosseini has been to IMF meetings in D.C., but has kept low profile

Washington (CNN) -- The Iranian economic affairs and finance minister is in Washington for meetings of the International Monetary Fund, the Iranian interest section said in a press release.

Shamseddin Hosseini also will brief reporters Friday, the statement said, where he will discuss world economic developments and Iran's economy. The minister is even willing to do individual interviews, the statement said.

Although Hosseini has been to Washington for IMF meetings in the past, he has kept a low profile until now, as have other Iranian officials who make rare visits to Washington.

Iranian leaders visit the United Nations regularly, but the State Department must approve visits by Iranian officials to other areas of the United States. The United States does not have relations with Iran; Pakistan represents Iranian interests in the United States.

Last year, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki made a quiet one-day trip to Washington following the U.N. General Assembly meetings in New York. The State Department said little about the trip, except to confirm they granted his request to come to Washington to deal with consular issues at the Iranian interest section.

Hosseini's high-profile visit could be an effort to show the recent barrage of international sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program has not hurt the Iranian economy, a point Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made when he on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly last month.

Last week the Obama administration added more sanctions against Iranian government officials, members of the Revolutionary Guards Corps and others accused by the United States of being responsible for human rights abuses against the opposition.

The sanctions, announced Wednesday by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, block the assets of, and prohibit U.S. citizens from engaging in any business with, those on the list, which includes the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, the country's prosecutor general, and the ministers of welfare and intelligence.