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Capitol Hill Buzz: Republicans want answers on visit to Iran

WASHINGTON (AP) — Stop us if you’ve heard this one. Three guys walk into … the Iranian Interests Section in Washington, D.C.

They’re Republican congressmen and they did actually march into the office that represents Tehran’s only official government presence in Washington to apply in person for visas to travel to Iran. That was more than two months ago and they still don’t have an answer. So they fired off a letter to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif asking him what gives.

“If you reject our visa applications, please provide an explanation,” wrote GOP Reps. Mike Pompeo of Kansas, Lee Zeldin of New York and Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey in the letter to Zarif released Wednesday. All three lawmakers opposed the landmark international nuclear deal with Iran.

The congressmen have outlined what amounts to a Republican fantasy trip, which may account for what they called the “ridicule and delay” their request has generated inside Iran.

They want to visit American hostages held by the Iranians and get briefings on the detention in January of 10 American sailors who strayed into Iranian territorial waters. They’re also pushing for trips to three Iranian nuclear sites and to get information about Iran’s recent ballistic missile tests that many Republicans contend violate a U.N. resolution.

The congressmen told Zarif they’ve already missed a chance to observe elections in Iran because of the delay.

“With your claims that many moderates were elected, we imagine that there should be no problems now with our trip,” they wrote.

The lawmakers noted that the U.S. government allows Iranian leaders to come to the United States. And American business delegations are going to Iran, so clearly the corporate world is getting visas.

“We trust the same courtesy will be extended to American leaders,” they wrote to Zarif.

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Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken didn’t waste the moment when he sat down to testify at a Senate hearing ahead of U2 front man Bono.

“Mr. Chairman, as a wannabe musician I could only dream of one day opening for Bono,” Blinken said in the packed hearing room. “So thank you for making that dream come true. It’s not the Verizon Center, but I’ll take it,” he added, referring to the Washington’s 20,000-seat arena.

Bono and Blinken testified Tuesday before told the Senate appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations about the global refugee crisis and violent extremism.

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Follow Richard Lardner on Twitter at http://twitter.com/rplardner

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