State Sen. Joe Simitian has been black-listed by the Azerbaijani government after traveling to a separatist region while on a diplomatic visit, an Azerbaijani official said this afternoon.
Simitian, D-Palo Alto, was among a group of California senators visiting the Middle East. The delegation, which included Sens. Ellen Corbett, Curren Price, Mark DeSaulnier, Ted Lieu and Bob Huff, made at least one stop in the Iraq city of Arbil and was scheduled to return home Wednesday.
Elin Suleymanov, Azerbaijan's consul general in Los Angeles, said that after meeting with Azerbaijani officials in Baku, Azerbaijan's capital city, Simitian took an unannounced, personal trip to Nagorno-Karabakh, a predominately ethnic Armenian region and the center of a longstanding dispute.
The visit violated Azerbaijani rules requiring permission to travel to the region, Suleymanov said.
Simitian is "basically black-listed ... will not be allowed back," he said.
"I was very disappointed, because it was a very successful visit," Suleymanov said. "The visit has become somewhat marred by this."
Simitian's office said this afternoon that the senator was traveling today and would address the matter when he returns.
Torey Van Oot of The Bee's Capitol Bureau contributed to this report