Iran anger over US visa refusal for UN envoy Hamid Aboutalebi


The BBC's Chloe Bugelly: "The refusal to issue the visa has sparked anti-US protests in Tehran"

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Iran has insisted it will not replace its new envoy to the UN in New York and accused the US of acting illegally by refusing a visa to the diplomat.

A senior Iranian official said they would "pursue the matter via legal mechanisms" with the United Nations.

The US accuses Hamid Aboutalebi of links to the group that seized the US embassy in Tehran in 1979, an incident that soured ties between the countries.

Mr Aboutalebi says that he only acted as a translator for the group.

Congress passed a bill last week that would allow the US to refuse an ambassadorial selection if the candidate posed a security risk.

Earlier this week, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif condemned the move by Congress.

An Anti-American crowd demonstrates outside of the US Embassy, 21 November 1979 The hostage crisis was part of Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution

He characterised those in favour of the bill as "a group of radicals" and said the move would not influence Iran's policies.

Although the bill still requires the signature of the president before it can become law, Congress appears to have succeeded in getting Mr Aboutalebi barred.

Start Quote

"Americans of a certain age will not forget their bitter anger at watching 52 countrymen paraded, bound and blindfolded, through the streets of Tehran, nor the endless anxiety felt while the American diplomats were held prisoner for 444 days" ”

End Quote Washington Times

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the president "shared the intent of the bill", and would not issue a visa.

Mr Babaei said the White House decision was "in contravention of international law, the obligation of the host country and the inherent right of sovereign member states to designate their representatives to the United Nations".

Under international law, the US as the host nation for the UN is obliged to grant visas to states' representatives.

In the most high-profile similar case, the US refused a visa to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to speak at the UN in 1998. The UN condemned that decision.

The UN has not yet commented on Mr Aboutalebi's situation.

Mr Aboutalebi has previously served as Iran's ambassador to Belgium, the European Union, Italy and Australia.

He has said 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.

The hostage crisis was part of the revolution that overthrew Iran's monarchy and installed the Islamic republic.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 208.

    67.Richard Morris . Time to declare the UN campus international space, not part of the USA. Then this would not happen.

    Will not work because you cannot fly direct to UN!

  • rate this

    Comment number 207.

    @191. Dave

    They say that they would never entertain a terrorist, yet they were happy to sit at the same table as IRA terrorists to broker a so called peace deal. Crazy init.

    @198. tsigili

    Yet the US accepted IRA terrorists to stay in your country. Smacks of hypocrisy doesn't it.

    Two nutter nations chest beating.....quite pathetic.

  • rate this

    Comment number 206.

    The OIC dominated UN should not be in the US. It should be in Therein or Islamabad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 205.

    I wonder how the morally bankrupt UK leftists live with themselves when they support regimes like Iran over the USA/Israel and often the UK itself.

    Here's a video of Iran slow-hanging three Baha'i men as the crowd enthusiastically cheer "death to the Baha'i".

    [Unsuitable URL removed by Moderator]

    And this is the Baha'i centre in Israel

  • rate this

    Comment number 204.

    This is just rubbing salt in the wound to Americans. This man should not be allowed on US soil. He has shown his colours and how much he hates Americans. This Iran persists in pin pricking the US. Once they have their nuclear bomb, America will realise just how mistaken they were with these people. They never tell the truth and will never change. do not give him a visa!

  • rate this

    Comment number 203.

    By this way US insult to all Iranians. US is just host of the UN and US has to understand this fact that is Aboutalebi is the representative of Iran in UN not in US.

  • rate this

    Comment number 202.

    Declaring the UN campus an international area will work nicely if it also has its own airport, hospitals, living quarters, food supply, and everything else needed by the human beings who have to be there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 201.

    UN became a "you scratch my back - I'll scratch yours" forum for unpleasant countries to vilify Israel, so the spotlight is turned away from their own atrocities. Hence umpteen heavily biased anti Israel resolutions while those voting for such resolutions are often a thousand times worse. Critics of the USA should consider where the world would be without the USA. Under a Hitler or a Stalin maybe?

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    After WWII, USA/UK & allies had to bite the bullet in dealing with many of those in senior positions responsible for death/destruction & attrocity.

    If USA acted after WWII as it did with Iraq & removed everyone from previous Saddam regime, one would be left with a massive vacumm & Germany/Japan would never have recovered & evolved peacefully.

    Other side, USA funded a murderous regime in Iran

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    Is this some weak attempt by the US to provoke Russia?

  • rate this

    Comment number 198.

    The U.S. will not accept an Iranian terrorist, as an ambassador within our country. Period.

    That simply is NOT going to happen.

  • rate this

    Comment number 197.

    In my humble opinion, I think the UN should be disbanded. This shows how ineffective it is, not to mention the other incidents that have shown the UN to be useless, such as in Bosnia. Has the UN actually ever averted any major crisis? The UN should go the way of the League of Nations and be consigned to history.

  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    Both US & Iran are jeopardising the recent thaw in relations between the two on nuclear disarmament after decades of standoff by making it a prestige issue. Either US should allow the Iran diplomat or Iran should send a non-controversial person to UN. I think Obama as President can still intervene and overrule the Congress decision. So too the grand Ayatollah consider a replacement.

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.

    In the 60's to late 70's who was America's biggest allies in the middle East?
    IRAN, do some history reading people, then you will see it is the US & UK and the Dutch who broke the middle East and made it what it today and America has the front to moan who there UN representative is.
    Short memory the Yanks have!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    The Iranians have taken the bait for the Israel driven US Neo Con agenda that calls for war as soon as the Republicans take back the Congress and White House in 2017:

  • rate this

    Comment number 193.

    Just think of all the countries around the world who have a very good reason for denying the US ... well, anything. They interfere everywhere and Iran was no exception....the CIA placed the Shah in power after removing a democratically elected President. The UN is a joke and the US is another one!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 192.

    Following on from the "dave's got religion" HYS yesterday -

    This is just yet another example of religion getting the way of peace.

  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    How odd,

    in the week a former IRA General (responsible for atrocities against normal civilians) has a meal with the Queen.

    The USA say THEY are not prepared to entertain a terrorist.

    who would ever have thought it? The USA on the correct side of morality.

  • rate this

    Comment number 190.

    181. Pompey41
    .....and what is Dave's take on the situation. Is he going to stand up for UN principles or roll over again for President Oblimey.

    He'll leave it with God.

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    Iran displayed an absolutely cynical disregard for the norms of the diplomatic process during the hostage crisis. No one involved is fit to serve in any diplomatic post—ever. Appointment of Aboutalebi to the UN can only be interpreted as an intentional affront to the US as host, and must be treated as such. Add him to the no-fly list, as well.


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