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 228.

    Declare the Falkland Islands (or is it the Malvinas?) international territory and move the U.N. headquarters there. Level the budget to be supported on a standardized basis by all member countries and eliminate the Security Council....go from there. That makes as much (or more) sense than many of the comments that I have seen here. That would show those Yanks a thing or two....

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    Iran states this contravenes international law. Let's allow that. However, the occupation of the US Embassy in Teheran is a more significant breach of international laws.

    The UN is international space and nations' embassies are the territory. A visa is needed to travel through other parts of the USA.

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.

    You think the Americans should let him in? You probably also believe in Santa Claus, the tooth fairy and that carbon dioxide is somehow a problem rather than a blessing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 225.

    Awwwww. Does Iran think The Geat Satan is being undiplomatic? TOO BAD.

  • rate this

    Comment number 224.

    Leaders of Israel were once regarded as terrorists.

    Personally, I regard many USA clergy as terrorists, the right wing Tea Party ones spewing their vile indoctrination hatreds accross Africa & creating consequences of murder, torture & criminal laws & severe punishments against gays, largely funded by USA government, religious indoctrination policy for aid help, under Bush was even worse

  • Comment number 223.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 222.

    the theocratic ideologues in Iran will never compromise on anything, including the nuclear issue. They knew very well that this person would make the Americans upset. Obviously the Iranians prefer needling the Americans than to resolve the nuclear issue and fixing their economy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 221.

    Whilst I have no time for the revolting regime in Iran, it is sadly a fact of life and is a legitimate government. The UN is an international diplomatic body, that happens to be situated in the USA, the US government has no right to deny access to delegates, just because it doesn't like that country's politics. This will solve nothing and just makes the Iranians even more intransigent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 220.

    UN became a "you scratch my back - I'll scratch yours" forum for unpleasant countries to vilify Israel,


    I think the hijacking of the UN human rights council by the Islamic bloc and their allies was complete, when Iran & North Korea denounced Canada's human rights record.

    It's a joke of an organisation hence the anti-Israel resolutions are meaningless.

  • rate this

    Comment number 219.

    The art of diplomacy is in giving the other side a ladder to climb down. There are frequently unwelcome guests at international conventions,and that is inevitable,but how else to resolve conflict?

  • rate this

    Comment number 218.

    211. Asif Smith

    Feel a comment coming on. You are quite right The US used to roll out the red carpet for the IRA thinking they were freedom fighters throwing off the yoke of imperial British oppression.

    It was only after 9/11 that they realised what terrorism felt like at the business end. Therefore it was Bin Laden that effectively forced the IRA into negotiations and not Saint Tony Blair.

  • rate this

    Comment number 217.

    Move the UN to another country (i.e. an Arabic one?). When the arabs pay... for the whole pantomime.. They might appreciate the cost to the USA for hosting it... and the petty attacks by Arabs over the years...

  • rate this

    Comment number 216.

    He helped armed kidnappers.

    Nice guy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 215.

    Why not declare the UN as international territory, not part of the USA?

    Then there can be an end to childish games.

  • rate this

    Comment number 214.

    167.Asif Smith
    "Oh, sorry, I mistook your post for arrogance, didn't realise you are actually a hysteric getting all defensive because someone ridicules their overreaction."

    No problem. If you think hurling insults at anyone who disagrees with you makes you seem clever, that is your prerogative.

  • rate this

    Comment number 213.

    so after destroying their relationship with Putin over Ukraine the US is now doing its dumb best to unravel the negotiations with Iran. Isn't it obvious these guys are just pushing for war?

  • rate this

    Comment number 212.

    Take him as a diplomat and have him kidnapped and held for 500 days just like they held American diplomats. Allowing him on US soil would really be wrong. Send him to Guantanamo bay for 500 days

  • rate this

    Comment number 211.

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

    But letting in Gerry Adams is fine of course.

  • rate this

    Comment number 210.

    The UN has been hijacked by third world countries that want the first world countries to foot the bill, while the third world grandstands against the first world countries. Is it any wonder the UN gets next to nothing done these days?

  • rate this

    Comment number 209.

    1979, Jimmy Carter lost a second term as president. The republican actor Ronald Reagan was elected. Hostages released. Some fancy footwork there no doubt.

    btw Because the rating system doesn't work for most of us it now is pointless.


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