Hassan Rouhani
Hassan RouhaniReuters

The United States on Thursday issued visas allowing Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to travel to New York for the UN General Assembly.

Iranian UN mission spokesman Alireza Miryousefi confirmed to the Reuters news agency that the US visas had been issued.

On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump was asked about the issue and said that if it were up to him, the two Iranian leaders would be granted visas.

“I would let them come. If it was up to me, I would let them come,” Trump told reporters before departing Los Angeles aboard Air Force One.

“I've always felt the United Nations is very important. I think it's got tremendous potential. I don’t think it's ever lived up to the potential it has, but I would certainly not want to keep people out if they want to come. So, that would be up to them,” he added.

When Zarif visited the UN this past summer, the US issued him a visa but forbade him from moving beyond six blocks of Iran's UN mission in Midtown Manhattan, a move which resulted in criticism from the UN.

The possibility of a meeting between Trump and Rouhani during the General Assembly has been floated around in recent weeks. On Tuesday, Trump said he would prefer not to meet Rouhani, even though he had previously expressed openness to the idea.

The Iranian President has made clear that he will not meet Trump unless all sanctions against Tehran are unilaterally lifted by the US.

Trump announced on Wednesday that he had ordered a “substantial increase” in sanctions on Iran, in the wake of Saturday’s drone strikes on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, which the country said had disrupted about half of the kingdom's oil capacity.