US refuses visa for Iran's UN envoy choice Hamid Aboutalebi

Hamid Aboutalebi Mr Aboutalebi denies being part of the core group that took the US diplomats hostage in 1979

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The White House has refused to issue a US visa to Iran's nomination for UN ambassador, who was involved in seizure of the US embassy in 1979.

The decision in effect bars Hamid Aboutalebi from taking up the role at the UN, which is based in New York.

Mr Aboutalebi was linked to the student group that took dozens of people hostage at the embassy in Tehran.

President Barack Obama has come under intense pressure from the US Congress not to allow him to enter the country.

Earlier this week, the White House told the Iranian government its selection of a one-time student revolutionary to be UN ambassador was "not viable".

A spokesman for Iran's mission to the UN, Hamid Babaei, described the decision as "regrettable" and said it contravened international law.

'Concern among diplomats'

The US House of Representatives and the Senate have both voted in favour of a bill barring Mr Aboutalebi from the US. It still requires the signature of the president before it can become law.

A blindfolded American hostage is paraded by his captors in the compound of the US Embassy Tehran, Iran Some 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days in Tehran

Iran says Mr Aboutalebi is one of its most experienced diplomats and stands by his nomination.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Friday the UN and Iran had been told "that we will not issue a visa to Mr Aboutalebi".

He did not say whether President Obama would sign the bill but said the president shared the sentiments of Congress.

In an interview with an Iranian news site last month, Mr Aboutalebi said he was not part of the group that took over the US embassy and was only later asked to translate for the students.

The 52 Americans were held for 444 days during the crisis.

It is believed the US has never before denied a visa for a UN ambassador and correspondents say there is concern among diplomats about the precedent that could be set.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    The US provides the venue and facilitates the work of the UN. I do not consider that it has the right to refuse a visa to a member countries choice of ambassador unless they consider him to be a security threat. I understand that in this case Congress is juat being awkward and waving a big stick. Iran now seems to be making significant steps to making amends.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    This was a SERIOUS breach of International diplomacy, at the time. Why are people here so willing to condone that, yet criticize America for reacting in this way. Iran is just trying to push this for it's own aims, i.e to show America is powerless to avoid the whims of Tehran. Well done, USA. This was a calculated move by the Iranians. Why didn't they pick someone less contentious.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Presumably the Iranians were aware of the trouble this appointment would stir up, yet went ahead with it anyway. I wonder why? The correct action by the US would have been to ignore the appointment and accept it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Surely this is a step backwards given America's apparent willingness to reconcile with Iran. Allowing this issue to set a diplomatic precedent is dangerous and unnecessary. The US should realise its interests do not translate to the UN, and it is unwise to rock the boat on this issue.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    I am not sure that banning any 'diplomat' is ever a good idea. Unless they honestly believe he is a security threat, it would seem to make more sense to me to call their bluff on this one. Diplomacy is all about compromise and reconciliation. Withholding a visa seems to be an aggressive move which will only fan the flames.


Comments 5 of 7


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