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Iran

US denies visa to Iran’s nominee for UN ambassador

Iran’s nominee for UN ambassador won’t be granted entry into the United States, the White House has announced. The candidate is reportedly suspected of involvement in the 1979 hostage-taking of Americans in Tehran.

The United States denied a visa to Iran's top choice for its ambassador to the United Nations on Friday, just days after it called Tehran's nomination "not viable." Hamid Aboutalebi, the veteran Iranian diplomat, is believed to have taken part in the 1979 Tehran hostage crisis, which saw over 50 Americans held against their will by Iranian students for 444 days.

"We have informed the United Nations and Iran that we will not issue a visa to [Aboutalebi]," Carney told reporters at a news conference on Friday.

As the host country, the US is generally obligated to grant entry to envoys and heads of state attending the UN General Assembly in New York City. However, Washington holds the legal right to bar entry to diplomats under special circumstances, such as involvement in terrorist activities.

The Iranian government under President Hassan Rouhani has denied the terrorism allegations against its selection for UN envoy, saying Aboutalebi served as a translator and negotiator during the hostage situation.

The decision to bar the Iranian diplomat's entry followed closely after Congress waved through legislation that would grant the US president the power to deny UN representatives entry into the country. White House spokesperson Carney told reporters on Friday that US President Barack Obama had not yet decided whether to sign the bill into law.

The current row was not expected to negatively influence P5+1 talks aimed at curbing Iranian nuclear activities, Carney added.

However, it remained to be seen if Tehran held a similar view of the diplomatic spat, given the Iranian foreign minister's response to the situation earlier in the week.

"We announced to the Americans one of our most rational and experienced diplomats as our United Nations envoy," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif told Iranian media during a visit to Vienna on Tuesday. "The government of the United States is well aware that this kind of behavior is by no means acceptable for us."

kms/jm (AP, AFP, dpa)

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