Iran rejects U.S. ban on pick for U.N. envoy, vows legal action

Hamid Abutalebi

(Reuters) – Iran on Saturday rejected a U.S. decision to deny a visa for its newly appointed ambassador to the United Nations, pledging to take up the case directly with the world body in a dispute that has reopened old wounds dating to the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The United States, which hosts the United Nations, said Iran’s candidate Hamid Abutalebi was unacceptable given his role in a 444-day crisis in which radical Iranian students stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took 52 Americans hostage.

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.

“We have no replacement for Mr. Abutalebi and we will pursue the matter via legal mechanisms envisioned at the United Nations,” Abbas Araghchi, a senior Foreign Ministry official, was quoted by Iran’s official IRNA news agency as saying.

“Based on an agreement with the United Nations, America is bound to act according to its international commitments,” Araghchi said, as quoted by IRNA. The United Nations said it had no comment at this time on the U.S. decision…

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