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State Department Confused As To Whether Iranian General Traveled To Russia

A day after one spokesman confirmed the travel, another spokesman says he's in no position to confirm the news

• August 13, 2015 4:16 pm

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The State Department seems to be confused on whether Iranian general Qasem Soleimani traveled to Russia, with two different spokesmen contradicting one another in the past two days.

Fox News reported that Soleimani traveled to Moscow to discuss weapon shipments. The State Department first confirmed that Soleimani did travel to Russia, but the following day the State Department could not confirm whether the travel took place.

During a State Department press briefing on August 12, spokesman Mark Toner confirmed that Soleimani did travel to Russian but could not confirm whether the trip violated U.N. sanctions.

A reporter asked Toner if the United States had to be aware of Soleimani’s travels.

"Surely, the U.S. government knows where perhaps the biggest — one of the leading sponsors of terrorism, specifically against Americans in the last several years, is in the world, right?" the reporter asked.

"So just to clarify, Brad, we're looking into what was the purpose of his travel, the purpose of his meetings, and how and whether sanctions apply to–to his travel," Toner said.

Fox News reporter James Rosen asked for confirmation of the State Department’s acknowledgement that Soleimani did travel to Moscow.

"You just said you're looking into his travel, not his alleged travel, correct?" Rosen asked.

"Correct," Toner said.

"So you do accept it as a fact that the travel occurred?" Rosen asked.

"That's our understanding, yes," Toner said.

During the August 13 State Department press briefing, spokesman John Kirby could not confirm whether Soleimani traveled to Russia.

A reporter asked Kirby if Soleimani was wanted by any law enforcement agencies.

"With respect to Soleimani, he is not wanted, he's sanctioned, but not wanted by anything law enforcement agencies anywhere, is he?" the reporter asked.

"If the travel happened, and I'm not in position to confirm it, but if it happened it would be a violation of security council resolutions and certainly then a matter of serious concerns to the United States," Kirby said.

Published under: Iran, John Kirby, Russia, State Department