An Iranian MP has criticised the country's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for taking more than a hundred people with him to the UN general assembly in New York, saying the large entourage had travelled there for "a picnic".
At a time when many Iranians are struggling with economic hardship because of sanctions, almost 140 people have joined their president in his final visit to New York. Most of them are staying at the city's luxurious Warwick hotel, where suites can cost up to $1,600 a night.
Initially, visas had been requested for some 160 people, but the semi-official Fars news agency reported that about 20 applications were turned down, including those for members of his cabinet and two ministers.
Other Iranian sources, however, have put the numbers of those banned from US trip as high as 60.
In recent days, Iranian parliamentarians and media have spoken against the number of people travelling along with Ahmadinejad to the US, a country Iranian leaders depict as their sworn enemy.
The president is expected to address the general assembly on Wednesday in a highly anticipated speech.