|No alternative for UN envoy nominee, Iran says||
TEHRAN – Iran is not considering any alternative for its new ambassador nominee to the United Nations Hamid Aboutalebi, who has been denied a visa by the United States, a senior Foreign Ministry official says.
“We are not considering an alternative to replace Mr. Aboutalebi and are pursuing the issue through legal mechanisms,” Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Abbas Araqchi told the Mehr News Agency on Saturday.
The United States said on Friday it would not give a visa to Iran’s proposed UN ambassador, who was involved in seizure of the U.S. embassy in 1979.
U.S. President Barack Obama had come under strong pressure not to allow Hamid Aboutalebi into the country to take up his position in New York, Reuters reported.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the United Nations and Iran had been told “that we will not issue a visa to Mr. Abutalebi.”
This move can open the United States to criticism that it is using its position as host nation to improperly exert political influence.
Aboutalebi was a part of the Iranian student group that seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979 during the post-revolution incidents. The veteran diplomat has said that he acted as an interpreter for the group who held the hostages.
A spokesman for Iran’s mission to the United Nations said the White House decision was unfortunate and may violate international law.
“It is a regrettable decision by the U.S. 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.
The United Nations said it had no comment at this time on the U.S. decision.
Obama’s decision raised concerns about possible precedents, such as calls from U.S. interest groups for future visas to be denied for political reasons, or retaliation abroad.
“If the U.S. starts to pick and choose who can represent other countries at the UN, other countries are likely to react angrily. How would Washington feel if Switzerland vetoed its choice for American ambassador to the Human Rights Council in Geneva?” Richard Gowan, an international relations expert at New York University, told Reuters.
The White House is still reviewing the legislation, which would bar any UN representative deemed to be behind acts of terrorism or espionage against the United States. It would need Obama’s signature to become law.
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