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US troubled by Iran's choice of its UN ambassador

October Surprise

BY LARA JAKES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. objected Wednesday to Iran's anticipated selection of a former hostage-taker at the American Embassy in Tehran as its newest ambassador to the United Nations. But the Obama administration stopped short of saying it would refuse him a visa to enter the United States.

State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf called the potential nomination of Hamid Aboutalebi "extremely troubling" and said the U.S. has raised its concerns with Tehran. Lawmakers in Congress who usually disagree on everything - ranging from liberal New York Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer and conservative Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz - have demanded that Aboutalebi be barred from living and working in the United States.

But Harf noted that except in limited cases, the U.S. is generally obligated to admit the chosen representatives of member states to U.N. headquarters in New York.

"We're taking a close look at the case now, and we've raised our serious concerns about this possible nomination with the government of Iran," Harf told reporters. She added: "But we do take our obligations as host nation for the United Nations very seriously."

Hamid Babaei, a spokesman for Iran's Mission to the United Nations, had no comment Tuesday on his government's choice for ambassador

Aboutalebi was a member of a Muslim student group that stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. He reportedly has insisted that his involvement in the group - Muslim Students Following the Imam's Line - was limited to translation and negotiation.

But lawmakers have derided Aboutalebi as a terrorist and a key conspirator in the hostage crisis, and warned that his nomination would escalate tensions in already delicate negotiations aimed at curbing Tehran's nuclear program.

In a letter Wednesday to Secretary of State John Kerry, Schumer said Aboutalebi's association with the student group should make him ineligible for a visa or diplomatic immunity in the U.S.

"This man has no place in the diplomatic process," Schumer said in a separate statement. "Iran's attempt to appoint Mr. Aboutalebi is a slap in the face to the Americans that were abducted, and their families. It reveals a disdain for the diplomatic process and we should push back in kind."

Earlier this week, Cruz questioned the wisdom of negotiating with the Iranian government in light of what he called its "deliberately insulting and contemptuous" choice for U.N. ambassador. The nuclear negotiations are set to resume next week in Vienna.

Harf insisted the nuclear talks and the U.N. envoy were separate issues, even as she noted Washington's ongoing concerns with Iran on multiple fronts.

"On the nuclear issue, they have upheld their commitments," Harf said. "We hope they will continue to."

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Follow Lara Jakes on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/larajakesAP

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

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David DiMartino April 03 2014 at 12:55 AM

Come on people as American's we need to stand together and not let a nation that hates us to thumb their nose at us and send over this person as an Ambassador with diplomatic ammunity. We cannot allow third world nations to make us look weak. Is this what we stand for equal rights for thugs?

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1 reply
georgiahoney66 David DiMartino April 03 2014 at 1:32 AM

Apparently. We don't seem to have enough politicians in Washington with "big ones" to tell those aholes to back off or we will back it off for them, but we don't wabt to create or start WWIII either.

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Redding Holbert April 03 2014 at 2:55 AM

The US should remove the whole Iranian delegation.

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poker25005 April 03 2014 at 3:11 AM

The United States government should refuse to give him a visa and not allow him to enter the country. This would serve two purposes, it would send a message to Iran as well as the U.N. that we are tired of their crap and I think we should throw the U.N. out of the United States as well

Flag Reply +9 rate up
lou2school April 03 2014 at 10:28 AM

We need to get the United Nations out of this country. It is a useless joke of an organization.

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rocky972 April 03 2014 at 3:29 AM

This man should be given a visa to enter the United States, but without diplomatic immunity. He should be arrested as a terrorist the moment he steps onto US soil. One more thought, maybe we can ammend the constitution to reinstate crucifiction for radical muslims. To die like a Christian would be a most fitting execution.

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RJJCS April 03 2014 at 10:25 AM

Fine..we can give him a visa and permit him to ENTER the U.S, but we DON'T HAVE TO LET HIM LEAVE! He needs a good taste of what he did to our American citizens.

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cptanarvn April 03 2014 at 4:18 AM

Let him work at the UN Headquarter in New York ,but he can not live in the USA or walk the soil of the USA , i.e every evening after work he has to go home somewhere else. commute to Teheran for exemple or commute to Venezuela or Cuba.

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dad April 03 2014 at 4:21 AM

is this the embassy that the u.s. marines were supposed to be guarding? why didn't they just put blue helmets on and give them some blanks to shoot! what a disgrace that was. who was the commandant of the corp back then alfred e. newman?

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jpmoody April 03 2014 at 4:24 AM

I'd like to hear what Jimmy Carter has to say about this. I think we should offer to pick him up in a private jet and fly him directly to Guantanamo. (If we can keep our current president from closing it.)

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ian47pegasus April 03 2014 at 4:30 AM

Welcome to the new World order, Where THUGS are rewarded ! All it takes for EVIL to prosper and thrive is for the silent majority to stay silent. Decleared or not, I always thought that the storming of an embassy was an act of war. When we are marched off to the death camps (wich won't be long now) Christians will be required to wear a patch with a fish or cross sign, Jewish people the star of David. Wonder what the rest of us (athiests, Budists etc etc) will have on our patches or arm bands as we too are marched off to the concentration camps ?????

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