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 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 13.

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

  • 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 5.

    The UN should step into the matter. The Americans cannot decide who countries can chose to represent them at the UN. Do the Americans scrutinise every nominee? This is a dangerous precedent because very soon other countries will start refusing to grant diplomats visas over flimsy excuses.

  • 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 72


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