Moscow: The head of Iran’s elite military Quds Force, who is subject to a United Nations travel ban, has visited Russia, two US security sources said on Friday.
Qasim Sulaimani, chief of the force which is an overseas arm of the Revolutionary Guards, has been subject to an international travel ban and asset freeze by the UN Security Council since 2007.
Fox News reported on Thursday that Sulaimani had arrived in Moscow on July 24 and met President Vladimir Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu before departing three days later.
A Kremlin spokesman denied any meeting between Sulaimani and Putin had taken place, RIA news agency reported.
One US security source said the Fox report was true but it was unclear what was discussed at the meeting.
A senior administration official in Washington said US sanctions on Sulaimani would remain in place.
“We will maintain sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Qods Force, its leadership — including Qasim Sulaimani — and its entire network,” the official said.
Two officials at the Russian Foreign Ministry said they could neither confirm nor deny a Sulaimani visit to Moscow. The Russian defence ministry was not available for comment.
Washington designated Sulaimani’s Quds Force as a supporter of terrorism in 2007. The European Union did the same in 2011.
Western governments and the Israeli regime accuse it of arming various militant groups in the Middle East. UN member states are required to deny entry to blacklisted individuals.