Iran insists on choice for UN envoy despite US denial of visa

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An undated handout picture released by the official website of the Iranian president on April 11, 2014 shows Hamid Abutalebi who has been denied a U.S. visa.
Iran says it is not considering a replacement nominee for its prospective new envoy to the United Nations, despite his being denied a U.S. visa.
A senior Iranian Foreign Ministry official said Saturday there is no replacement choice for Hamid Abutalebi, and Iran will pursue the visa denial issue "through legal mechanisms at the U.N."
The United States will not grant a visa to Tehran\’s newly appointed UN ambassador, Hamid Aboutalebi, who has been linked to the 1979 US hostage crisis, the White House says.
The decision in effect bars Hamid Aboutalebi from taking up the role at the UN, which is based in New York.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the United Nations and Iran had been told "that we will not issue a visa to Mr Abutalebi".
Neither the White House nor the US State Department provided further explanation.
US law allows the government to bar UN diplomats who are considered national security threats, but Obama\’s potentially precedent-setting step could open the United States to criticism that it is using its position as host nation to improperly exert political influence.
The US government objects to Abutalebi because of his suspected participation in a Muslim student group that seized the embassy in November 1979 and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.
The veteran diplomat has acknowledged that he acted as an interpreter for the group which held the hostages.
Obama\’s decision came days after negotiators from Iran, the US and five other world powers met in Vienna for another round of nuclear talks.
A spokesman for Iran\’s mission to the UN said the White House decision was unfortunate and may violate international law.
"It is a regrettable decision by the US administration which is 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," spokesman Hamid Babaei said in a statement.
But an Iranian official said he did not expect the dispute to affect the nuclear negotiations.
Any official response would be up to the Iranian Foreign Ministry, but the US decision "will have no impact on our talks with the P5+1," the official told Reuters news agency.
US officials also said they did not expect any impact. The UN said it had no comment at this time on the US decision.
Obama\’s decision raised concerns about possible precedents, such as calls from US interest groups for future visas to be denied for political reasons, or retaliation abroad.
The US House of Representatives and the Senate have both voted in favour of a bill barring  Aboutalebi from the US. It still requires the signature of the president before it can become law.
Iran says  Aboutalebi is one of its most experienced diplomats and stands by his nomination.
Source : Agencies

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