WASHINGTON (JTA) — Iran turned away a U.S. badminton team on a good-will visit.
The women’s team, headed for a tournament in Tehran, returned to the United States from Dubai on Tuesday after the Iranian Embassy there would not provide visas for onward travel.
The trip by the delegation of 12 was part of the U.S. State Department’s people-to-people outreach, a bid to tamp down tensions even as the United States leads the effort to force Iran to end its suspected nuclear weapons program.
Last year, the Iranian Badminton Federation had invited its U.S. counterpart to send a team, apparently with Iranian government approval.
"We are very interested in trying to improve relations between the American people and the Iranian people," State Department spokesman Robert Wood said Wednesday. "This is not a good step forward in terms of trying to promote people-to-people exchanges."