Washington: Iran has blocked an Internet website 'Virtual Embassy Tehran', within 24 hours of its launch by the US, accusing it of "meddling" in the internal affairs of the country.

US had launched the virtual online embassy on Tuesday to provide services like visa information to Iranians, despite lack of diplomatic ties.

The website, which was in English and Persian was blocked on Wednesday.

Accusing the US of "meddling" in the internal affairs of the country, Iran barred the website.

US officials responded by saying they were "expecting this".

However, they hoped that people of Iran would still be able access this website as many Iranians have tools to access this blocked website.

"We did expect" the State Department spokesman, Mark Toner, told reporters at a daily news conference.

"We are confident to recover from these kinds of temporary compromises of the site," he said.

"Many Iranians do have software and virtual private networks that allow them to work around these kinds of blocks.

 "I think, for example, there are millions of Iranians who have access to Facebook and they'll also be able to use these so-called VPNs to access this site," Toner said.

In the first 24 hours of the website being launched, majority of the nearly half-a-million hits were from outside Iran.

The virtual embassy, the official said, is an effort to use the Internet, in a transparent way and offer information about the United States.

 "We want to encourage travel to the United States," Toner said.
After 1979 Iranian revolution and seizure of US embassy in Tehran, both the countries broke off diplomatic relations.

(Agencies)