Photo: AFP
Hamid Abutalebi
Photo: AFP

Iran lodges complaint against United States over UN envoy ban

US rejected visa request for Hamid Abutalebi, who was involved in the 1979 hostage crisis in the US embassy in Tehran.

DUBAI - Iran has complained to the United Nations about the United States refusing to grant a visa to its newly appointed UN ambassador over his role in the 1979 hostage crisis, state news agency IRNA said on Sunday.


Hamid Abutalebi has said that he acted only as a translator during the 444-day crisis when radical Iranian students seized the US Embassy in Tehran and held 52 Americans hostage.


Foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham was quoted by IRNA as saying that the issue had been "referred to the UN committee".


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"The official mechanisms for following up the complaint have been activated and we are going to follow up the case," she said.


Tehran also demanded the intervention of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.


"We ask Ban Ki-moon to intervene and take steps to resolve this issue," Deputy Foreign Minister Majid Takht-Ravanchi was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying.


"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs fully supports this choice, and considers (Aboutalebi) as someone efficient, experienced and qualified for the position. The Ministry does not intend to nominate a new candidate."


Iran had said on Saturday it would take action against Washington at the United Nations over the matter.


Since an uproar among former US hostages and US lawmakers over Abutalebi broke out, Tehran has steadfastly stuck by its choice, describing Aboutalebi as a seasoned diplomat.


He has served as Iran's ambassador to Italy, Belgium and Australia, and is not known for being a hardliner or for having staunchly anti-Western views.


US President Barack Obama had come under strong domestic pressure not to allow Abutalebi into the United States to take up his position in New York, raising concerns that the dispute would disrupt delicate negotiations between Tehran and six world powers, including Washington, over Iran's nuclear program.


The US government can bar UN diplomats who are considered national security threats, but this potentially precedent-setting step could invite criticism that it is using its position as host nation to improperly exert political influence.


AFP contributed to this report.


פרסום ראשון: 04.14.14, 15:22
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