Interests Section of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the United States

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Embassy of Pakistan, Washington, D.C.

The Interests Section of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the United States is a part of the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, D.C., and is the de facto diplomatic representation of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the United States.

When the U.S. and Iran cut diplomatic ties in 1980, they agreed to establish "interests sections" to look after their interests in the other country. Each country picked a third country, which had friendly relations with both sides, to be its protecting power in the other capital.

Algeria originally served as Iran's protecting power in the U.S. However, when Iranian leaders expressed support for the Islamic Salvation Front in January 1992, Algeria refused to continue serving as Iran's protecting power. In March 1992, Pakistan agreed to undertake a mandate as Iran's protecting power in the U.S.[1] The old Iranian embassy was seized by the U.S. State Department in retaliation for Iranian seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. As a result, the Iranian Interests Section operates out of a small office in the Pakistani Embassy.[2][3]

The U.S. Interests Section in Tehran has been operating under the Swiss Embassy since 1980. Services for American citizens are limited. The section is not authorized to perform any U.S. visa/green card/immigration related services. Contrary to usual practice, the old U.S. embassy complex was not handed over to the Swiss. Instead, part of the embassy has been turned into an anti-American museum, while the rest has become student offices.[4]

In February 2009, the Iranian police arrested Marco Kämpf, the Swiss diplomat acting as the First Secretary of the US Interests, after finding him with an Iranian woman in a car. He was immediately recalled to Switzerland.[5][6]

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  1. ^ "Pakistan to Handle Iranian Affairs in U.S.". The New York Times. 17 March 1992. 
  2. ^ Luxner, Larry (November 2001). "Despite Lack of Diplomatic Ties, Door to Iran is Slowly Opening". The Washington Diplomat. The only difference is that the Cubans have their own office, which used to be the Cuban Embassy before their revolution. We don't have our own office, because the State Department has kept our embassy, and likewise, the Iranian government has the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. 
  3. ^ "Congressmen Pay A Visit to the Iranian Interest Section". The Weekly Standard. 4 February 2016. Unlike the grand embassies of Washington, Pakistan's embassy is a nondescript brick building downtown that looks like it could house any number of commercial enterprises. Inside, the Iranian Interest Section has a cramped lobby underneath a staircase that keeps the rest of the Interest Section out of sight. 
  4. ^ Pleitgen, Fred (July 1, 2015). "Inside the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran". CNN. 
  5. ^ "Swiss call diplomat home--but is there a scandal?". Iran Times International. Washington, DC. February 20, 2009. 
  6. ^ "Schweizer Diplomat nicht mehr im Iran tätig". 20 Minuten. 2009-02-09. Archived from the original on August 31, 2014. Retrieved December 29, 2016. 

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