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 32.

    I've always regarded the US as a wholly inappropriate location for the UN, given its penchant for violence against smaller nations, its blind allegiance to Israel and its contempt for international law and the laws of other nations. This petty but predictable act only reinforces my view.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    Move the UN elsewhere? US withdraws its funding, UN collapses within six months, huge swathes of the underdeveloped world with no kind of world policeman revert to destitution, ignorance, totalitarianism, barbarity, religious obscurantism - the kind of hell-hole any of their inhabitants who can are desperately fleeing to the West to escape.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    US of A are right. It was a provocation by the Iranians. This guy has no place at the UN

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    The Land of the Free.....?

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    The UN has become a forum for unpleasant countries conniving to back each other's agendas. Hence umpteen false resolutions against "apartheid and illegal" Israel while ignoring atrocities of those countries voting. The continual critics of USA should step back and consider where we'd be without them today. Under Nazism? Communist Russia? Extreme regimes?
    Hitler would be laughing his head off.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Couldn't the Iranian gvrnmt pick any other suitable diplomat just to avoid the any suggestion of being provocative. I really regret their choice.
    The world isn't waiting for more conflicts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    A particularly vicious unnecessary comment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    It's Human Politics. Nations can't behave without harming people, taking advantage of them, or endangering life on our world. Whether for desire of self-interest, power, politics, religion or destiny.... Grow up human - kind, or face a future of suffering.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    The US decision to deny a visa was correct. Iran violated international law when its citizens were allowed to seize and occupy the US Embassy. A message needed to be sent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Yet another instance of American exceptionalism. The UN is reduced to a mere tool in the hands of Americans to justify their invasions and to threaten other countries by conveniently referring to the so called 'international consensus'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Not a good move by the USA.

    The correct action would be to allow him a Visa but to put such restrictions on it, he would be limited to the UN building and his own Embassy, no travel outwith those areas.
    If he breaks the Visa conditions he would be deported immediately.

    Iran would then refuse to send him, but that would be their choice and not the USA's

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    @Stevdk - There are a lot of "naughty boys" about - and one could argue that the US are way naughtier than most.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    The UN is a waste of space.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Time to move the UN to a country that doesn't go out it's way to start wars or aggressive as the USA is. Maybe a neutral country like Switzerland or even New Zealand. Somewhere where the superpowers influence is very small. Also we need to get rid of the Veto crap too. And the 5 permanent members rules. All countries should be equal in the UN

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    The Yanks are really so naive - how is it that they are the richest country on this planet?

    Probably because they think just of themselves. Only an idiot would allow one person to get between two nations trying to rebuild relations.

    This is the time for Obama to show leadership and not to bend to the demands of Congress.

  • 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 15.

    Maybe similar visa refusals should be applied by nations throughout the world to Bush, Blair and Kerry, all of whom are alleged to have orchestrated regime change in Iraq and the Arab Spring leading to the subsequent slaughter of innocent civilians.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Ridiculous, petty and worthy more of Bush than Obama. If the US are going to behave like this about an incident that happened 35 years ago, I trust that the UN will announce its intention to move to a country which respects the rights of Member States to appoint the representatives they think fit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Time to move the UN headquarters to a more enlightened country.


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