US & Canada

Iran picks Gholamali Khoshru as new UN envoy

Gholamali Khoshru (file) Image copyright AFP
Image caption Gholamali Khoshru served as Iran's deputy foreign minister from 2002 to 2005

Iran has selected a new envoy as permanent representative to the United Nations in New York, 10 months after the US rejected its first choice.

The new candidate, Gholamali Khoshru, is a career diplomat who previously served as Iran's ambassador to the UN.

Mr Khoshru, a moderate, is currently Iran's ambassador to Switzerland.

In 2014, the US refused to grant a visa to Iran's UN nominee, Hamid Abutalebi, for his supposed role in the Iran hostage crisis in 1979.

Mr Khoshru was Iran's permanent representative to the UN from 1989 to 1995, and served as Iran's deputy foreign minister from 2002 to 2005.

Analysis: Nick Bryant, BBC News, Washington

The US Congress moved with unusual haste in rushing through legislation last year, aimed at stopping Iran's original choice of UN ambassador from entering the country. Hamid Abutabi acted as translator during the Tehran hostage crisis, a traumatic event that still looms large in the American psyche.

Iran complained that the US had violated the treaty it signed in 1947, when New York became the home of the United Nations, which obligates the State Department to grant visas to diplomats from UN member states.

Back then, it was thought that the diplomatic row would complicate, even derail, sensitive nuclear talks between Iran and the so-called P5+1 - the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany.

But the case of Hamid Abutabi seems to have had a negligible effect on the stalled talks, and has not poisoned the relationship between the two key negotiators, the US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif.

What the controversy did demonstrate was the problems that Barack Obama will face on Capitol Hill if there is a nuclear deal. The same lawmakers who rushed through legislation blocking Abutabi would scale the barricades to stop sanctions being lifted against Iran.

Image copyright Iranian presidency
Image caption Mr Aboutalebi denies being part of the core group that took the US diplomats hostage in 1979

According to a statement from Iran's foreign ministry, Mr Khoshru will pursue through legal channels the perceived illegal actions taken by the US as the host country at the United Nations.

Iran is said to believe the White House's refusal to grant Mr Abutalebi a visa is in contravention of international law and undermines a country's right to appoint who they choose to the UN.

Washington, however, has said it can deny visas for security, terrorism and foreign policy reasons.

Mr Abutalebi was linked to the student group that took dozens of people hostage at the embassy in Tehran in 1979.

He subsequently said his role was limited solely to that of a translator.

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