Iran says U.S. attitude to choice of U.N. envoy ‘unacceptable’

Hamid Abutalebi

(Reuters) – Iran on Wednesday dismissed as “unacceptable” U.S. government reservations about Tehran’s choice of Hamid Abutalebi as its new U.N. ambassador, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Some members of the U.S. Congress have expressed outrage at the selection of the veteran Iranian diplomat, who they accuse of playing a role in the 1979-81 hostage crisis in Iran when U.S. embassy workers were held for 444 days.

The White House made clear on Tuesday it did not welcome Abutalebi, saying officials had told Tehran that the selection was “not viable.”

But White House spokesman Jay Carney stopped short of saying Abutalebi would be barred from entering the United States.

“The attitude of the U.S. government towards Iran’s (choice) for U.N. envoy is not acceptable. Iran has officially conveyed its views,” IRNA quoted a Foreign Ministry spokesperson as saying. The spokesperson said Abutalebi was among Iran’s best and most experienced diplomats, noting he had “ambassadorship experience” in Italy, Belgium and Australia.

As the “host” nation for the U.N. headquarters, the United States is generally required to provide access to the United Nations for foreign diplomats. However, the State Department last week said U.S. law allows it to deny visas to diplomats for reasons of “security, terrorism, and foreign policy.”

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For what it’s worth, the Wiki entry says:

Aboutalebi was involved in the Iran hostage crisis in which of a number of American diplomats from the US embassy in Tehran were held captive in 1979. Aboutalebi said he did not participate in the takeover of the US embassy, but was brought in to translate and negotiate following the occupation.

Aboutalebi was a student and member of the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam’s Line, comprising students from several major science and technology universities of Tehran, which occupied the U.S. embassy in Tehran.

Ebrahim Asgharzadeh, a member of the core group who organized and led the embassy takeover, told BBC Persian that Aboutalebi’s involvement was peripheral. “Calling him a hostage-taker is simply wrong,” Asgharzadeh said.

Wiki is of dubious value in controversial issues since anyone can edit it.  I have no doubt whatsoever that Iran is very active on the Wiki front.  An Iranian opposition group might have better information but many of the “Iran human rights” sites are likely also compromised.