Palestinian Foreign Minister reportedly barred from speaking to media in Washington

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said on Friday American visa curbs prevented Riyad Al Maliki from addressing journalists

Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs Riyad Al Maliki attends a news conference about the Israel-Hamas war, on Friday in Washington. AP
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Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister said on Friday that the US had imposed restrictions on Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al Maliki, meaning he could not answer questions from the media during a visit to Washington.

The US denied the claim, which was made during a press conference in Washington.

A joint mission of Arab and Turkish ministers and diplomats had visited the US capital, to urge the Biden administration to reconsider its stance on the ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas militant group in Gaza.

A reporter questioned Mr Al Maliki about Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh's hopes for Hamas as a junior partner in a future Palestinian administration.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan intervened, saying US visa curbs prevented Mr Al Maliki from responding.

“The US government has imposed restrictions on his excellency that do not allow him to respond to media questions or to engage with the media,” he said.

Prince Faisal also suggested that there might be legal consequences for Mr Al Maliki if he spoke to journalists.

He referred to the alleged restrictions as a “historical” practice, warning of legal repercussions for non-compliance.

The US government denied the claim.

“Visa records are confidential under US law, so we cannot discuss the details of any individual visa case,” US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said.

“United States immigration law does not include any provisions that prohibit individuals from speaking to the press, and we have imposed no restrictions that prohibit individuals from speaking to the press.”

Restrictions on diplomats in the US

The US State Department's website, which includes information on US relations with the Palestinian Territories, does not mention any unique or specific restrictions imposed on Palestinian diplomats different from those applicable to diplomats from other nations.

Generally, diplomatic protocols and conditions are governed by international law, particularly the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which outlines the duties and rights of diplomatic missions and their staff.

Updated: December 09, 2023, 5:10 PM